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MPCA hears concerns from citizens living near Renville County dump

WILLMAR -- A group of residents living near the Renville County Landfill is asking the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for action on alleged problems with the facility in Henryville Township.

WILLMAR -- A group of residents living near the Renville County Landfill is asking the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for action on alleged problems with the facility in Henryville Township.

They voiced concerns about a range of issues, from wind-blown plastic and dust to groundwater pollution, during a meeting Wednesday with MPCA officials in Willmar.

The residents have raised similar concerns in the past, and said their complaints have led to some changes.

"Its improved because we keep complaining,'' said Nate Barta.

Barta and his parents, Dennis and Karen Barta, own 80 acres of land adjacent to the landfill that the county is seeking to acquire through eminent domain to expand the facility. Dennis Barta told Heidi Kroening and Paul Kimman, pollution control specialists with the MPCA, that the expansion would put the landfill within a quarter-mile of their home.

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The Bartas showed pictures of plastic materials that had blown from the landfill to their property. Along with neighbors Darlene Konz and Julie Jansen, they said there have been problems with dust from demolition materials as well.

They also voiced concerns about the ponding of water that has occurred at the landfill.

The county had earlier been assessed a penalty by the MPCA for the water. The group said they are also concerned about the potential for groundwater contamination from the landfill. One older cell for municipal solid waste at the landfill is not lined. Nor is a demolition cell, according to the residents.

Konz said they'd like to see monitoring wells placed in deeper aquifers at the site, and they would like to see the aquifers within a two-mile radius of the site mapped. The current monitoring wells are only drilled into shallow aquifers, she said.

Testing at the landfill has shown some contamination in a shallow aquifer at the site. Jansen said she saw records indicating that vinyl chloride was detected in one well at the site beginning in the 1980s.

Konz -- who has a domestic well that was contaminated by vinyl chloride -- believes the landfill is the source. The MPCA recently issued a report in which it determined that the source of the contamination was an old-style PVC pipe used in her well.

Contacted after the meeting, Renville County Public Works Director Marlin Larson said the county has been working to address the concerns of the residents.

It recently installed a drainage system that it hopes will prevent water from ponding. It is also in the process of installing a woven-faced fence -- 20 feet tall and 300 feet long -- on the east side of the facility to catch wind-blown materials.

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Its permit -- and management plan -- also requires steps to place cover on debris to prevent wind-blown materials.

The county is also developing a new plan for monitoring groundwater in the vicinity of the landfill. The plan addresses the need to assess whether any contamination might be reaching deeper aquifers, according to Larson.

The county is currently in the early stages of re-permitting the landfill. It has sought permission to expand the landfill for future county needs. The county has also entertained the possibility of accepting ash from a proposed waste-to-energy plant at the Central Bi-Products facility near Redwood Falls.

Larson said a separate cell would need to be developed to hold the ash, but the county has not pursued the permitting process for it. He said the county is not sure of the status of the waste-to-energy project. Home Farms Technologies, the Manitoba, Canada-based company that owned the waste-to-energy technology proposed for the project, has sold its rights to that technology.

Kroening told the landfill neighbors that she would follow up on their concerns and encouraged them to continue reporting their concerns.

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