For decades in Minnesota, landfills for construction and demolition debris have not been required to use linings that stop toxic pollutants from seeping into groundwater. As the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency tells it, the waste wasn’t considered to be an environmental risk when the landfill rules were first implemented in 1988.
“We really thought that untreated wood, that concrete, the gypsum in your drywall, was inert,” said Courtney Ahlers-Nelson, supervisor of the MPCA’s Land Permits Unit.
That understanding has shifted, especially as construction materials have changed. And research now shows such unprotected landfills can contaminate groundwater, said Ahlers-Nelson.
That information has prompted the agency to try and beef up its regulations — a possibility some county landfill operators have balked at — and also bolstered a Minneapolis nonprofit that is pushing for tough new rules in the Twin Cities to keep most construction demolition waste from ever reaching a dump.
The nonprofit news outlet MinnPost provided this article to The Associated Press through a collaboration with Institute for Nonprofit News.