Closed landfills in Big Stone, Chippewa, Meeker, and Redwood counties and near Paynesville in Stearns County are among those found to be leaking perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances into groundwater.

Often referred to as “forever” chemicals, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reported Thursday that it found the chemicals in groundwater at 59 closed landfills in 41 counties.

Groundwater at each of these sites exceeded the Minnesota Department of Health’s health-based guidance values for PFAS. Overall, the MPCA has found PFAS contamination in groundwater at 98 of the 101 tested sites in the closed landfill program, according to the MPCA news release.

The closed landfills in Big Stone, Meeker and Yellow Medicine counties are listed as having contamination that exceeds state health-based guidance values. PFAS are listed as being detected in the groundwater at the landfills located in Chippewa, Redwood and Stearns counties.

The MPCA is seeking to use funds from a closed landfill investment fund created by the Legislature in 2021 to address the contamination.

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“The MPCA has found PFAS contamination in almost every closed landfill it oversees,” said MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop in the announcement. “Once again, our assessments tell us that PFAS is everywhere in our environment. That’s why the agency needs the ability to use dedicated funds more flexibly to rapidly respond to these urgent contamination incidents.”

The MPCA will expand its water monitoring as a result of the discovery of contamination in groundwater.

Significant PFAS contamination in groundwater can be addressed by installing an engineered system to pump groundwater that will control the movement and reduce the impact of the contamination. The MPCA plans to conduct feasibility studies to determine how best to treat groundwater and leachate contaminated with PFAS.