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Removal of toxic waste to begin at shuttered Andover landfill

Updated: July 23, 2019 12:13 PM

A major excavation project is poised to begin at the long-shuttered Waste Disposal Engineering Landfill in Andover.

At 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz, state lawmakers, environmental experts and local leaders were at the site to mark the start of the  excavation. 

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The WDE Landfill has been locked up and off limits since 1983. Back in its day, it was the only municipal dump that was permitted to take hazardous waste. People would drop off whatever they wanted to get rid of with no questions asked.  


More from KSTP: 

State leaders exploring impact of controversial landfill project

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The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said 6,600 barrels of toxic waste was stored in a pit.  Environmental testing revealed the clay and  asphalt lining of the pit was leaking and contaminating the groundwater with discarded paint, heavy metals and other volatile compounds. 

A number of pollution control systems have been installed over the years and maintained with millions of taxpayer dollars, according to the MPCA. Despite the remediation efforts, the toxic discharge continued to pose a risk to the health of 20,000 people who live in the surrounding area.

The new plan is to excavate the barrels and surrounding soil, which will cost about $22 million.

Earlier this year, lawmakers passed a bill to pay the remaining $10.3 million needed to finish the excavation.

Governor Tim Walz noted this particular project has been one of his biggest priorities since taking office.

"The people of Andover and the people of Minnesota deserve to know their children and families are safe and secure and that whatever is in the water or in the air that we're doing something about it to reduce those risks," Walz said.

"People can be relieved that this horrible toxic waste dump is going to go away," said Senator Jim Abeler, who represents District 35 in the north metro.

The excavation site has been prepped with a temporary tent-like structure, designed to protect nearby residents from any vapors that may be released. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said the hazardous waste barrels that are dug up will most likely be sent out of state to be incinerated.

The excavation is expected to start in early August and last the rest of the year.

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Beth McDonough/Alex Jokich

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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