WILLMAR -- The types of demolition debris buried at a private landfill that began operating a couple months ago in northern Kandiyohi County might be expanded to include a variety of industrial waste.
In a unanimous vote Monday by the Kandiyohi County Planning Commissioners, Jay Morrell Building Investments, known as JMBI, LLC, gained the first foothold in a state permitting process that would change the regulatory classification of the landfill from class I to class III.
The vote to approve the conditional use permit came over the objections of about half-dozen Roseville Township residents who questioned the integrity of the clay and synthetic liner installed in the floor of the landfill and the possibility pollution would find its way into the shallow aquifers that farmers use for irrigating crops and home owners tap for drinking water.
"What's the hurry?" asked Pat Flanders, who said the current operation of the newly opened landfill should be monitored to check for groundwater contamination before the company is allowed to expand its list of allowable materials.
Greg Korstad, an attorney representing JMBI, doing business as C&D Landfill Inc., said the landfill was overbuilt to "the most stringent" Class III standards when it was constructed in July.
He said the use of the land would be no different in the future than it is now if the classifications changed and that landowners won't see or notice anything different in the outside appearance.
He said the trucks going in and out of the landfill won't change. "But what's in those trucks might change slightly."
In comments after the meeting, Korstad said that with transportation and mileage making competition stiff for demolition landfills, "it would be a shame not to use it (the landfill) as constructed."
JMBI, which operates a concrete plant in New London, owns the 40-acre gravel pit where the landfill is located.
After a 15-month legal battle with the Kandiyohi County Board, which initially opposed the landfill, JMBI was given county conditional use permit in 2007.
Since that time, the company has gone through extensive review and permitting procedures with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The MPCA is ultimately in charge of overseeing the operations of the landfill.
Because the MPCA hadn't identified clear guidelines for materials in the different classes at that time, Korstad said the company applied for a Class I permit from the state but built it to higher standards.
Class I includes basic demolition debris, like untreated wood, concrete, siding left over from construction projects or the result of demolishing an existing building. A Class III facility is allowed to accept a wider scope of demolition items, including those produced at commercial or industrial businesses.
As an example, Korstad said a door that's thrown away during the construction or demolition of a house is allowed in a Class I demolition landfill, but a door that's generated and thrown away by a commercial business must go to a Class III demolition landfill. The Class III acceptable items go beyond doors, however.
Some of the residents said they feared that potentially dangerous waste could end up in the landfill and then quickly spread to ground water and to nearby Long Lake.
Mike Flanders, a Roseville Township supervisor, said residents there objected to the landfill from the start and don't want the permit to be expanded. He said there could be "some bad stuff" that would end up there.
When asked, Korstad said they can legally accept asbestos as a Class I facility, but said it's not in JMBI's business plan to do so.
Foster Hudson, who owns land next to the landfill, said a plan might "look good on paper" but said if contamination reaches Long Lake it would be "too darn late" for action.
The Kandiyohi County Commissioners will take action Jan. 18 on the Planning Commission's recommendation to approve the permit.
Korstad said it will take six to eight months for the MPCA to finish its work on the permit for changing the classification.
In response to Commissioner Harlan Madsen's question, Korstad said there is no public review and comment period that would allow citizens' input on the MPCA's process. He said, however, people can call the MPCA and talk to them directly about the proposed changes.