HOPKINS, Minn. - Come this fall, neighbors near a closed landfill in Hopkins will see what's been buried for more than 30 years. They may smell it, too.
"There are kids running around here all the time," said Cassandra Buffalohead who lives near the landfill. "I'm not sure I want my child breathing that in unless someone can guarantee it's safe."
Officials with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency ensure when they reconfigure the covered landfill, that smell wont' be problematic, just annoying. Keeping the public safe is why the agency is digging up the waste on the site.
"This is number one on our priority risk list," said MPCA engineer Peter Tiffany on Monday. "It's a high risk because of the proximity of the residents to the landfill itself."
The MPCA want to make sure that their 112 covered landfills in the state are at least 200 feet from residential areas. Currently, the 26-acre plot of land in Hopkins has homes and apartment buildings close to 50 feet.
"What we'll do is reduce the footprint significantly," said Tiffany. "It will free up land and provide a much better buffer for the residents."
Tiffany admits there is a possible risk of methane gas at the landfill and to ensure safety the $4.3 million project is a must. Crews will move a large portion of the 500,000 tons of waste, build it up higher, cover it with plastic, and re-cover it with top soil. The project will also include new fencing around the landfill.
"This will manage that risk and keep the gas from getting into any of the enclosed buildings," said Tiffany. "It will help keep rainwater from getting into the waste."
The Hopkins landfill was operational in the 1960s and 1970s, but in 1980 was locked up and covered up. Now, organizations like the MPCA manage it, study it, and make sure the public is as safe as possible.
"We have no gas migration towards these buildings at the moment as our current gas extraction system is keeping that in place," said Tiffany.
The project will begin in September and last several months.
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