Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Build it, and they will ... dump?

The MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) is excavating the landfill in Washington County to install a modern containment system. As the Strib dubbed it, an "history-making landfill do-over". 33 acres of garbage. $20,000,000. wow. ever notice that people write $20M or $20 million? It doesn't seem so impressive without all the zeros. That has led to one of the biggest attempts to go back and undo decades-old environmental practices that the metro area has ever seen. At the bottom of the 90-foot pit, four dozers were spreading clay that will form the base of the landfill. Compactors with huge spiked rollers were smoothing it. ... The landfill will have three layers of heavy plastic liner, separated by layers of geosynthetic material. Lewis said the new landfill will hold mainly old garbage but is designed with a higher level of protection often used to handle hazardous wastes. It will have three distinct layers to prevent any contaminated water in the landfill from reaching ground water: two feet of compacted clay at the bottom, three layers of heavy plastic above that, and two feet of sand and a collection and drainage system above the liners. an MPCA senior engineer, said no surprises have come to light so far in the nearly 300,000 cubic yards of waste removed. -- now, that in itself is a surprise The state has received some complaints about construction noise since work began in early June, he said, and one call about odor. The contractor is spraying the waste with a slurry of cement and cardboard paper to reduce odors, ... What kind of precedent is being set? Can I complain about the landfill in my part of town (hypothetically) and have the MPCA bring it up to modern standards? Does this remove any grandfather compliance clause about environmental protection? And really, what's the difference - ethically or scientifically - between cleaning up 3M (and other people's) waste and cleaning up the arsenic floating around the Philips Neighborhood over here? Oh, I know the difference. 3M has tons of money and can afford to spend $8,000,000 to help cleanup. The pesticide company which operated in Philips doesn't exist anymore. and, of course: NIMBY "I don't understand how this could have been a viable solution -- to dig this up, put in a liner, and then put it all back into the ground," said ---, who lives a half-mile east of the landfill. She and others at public meetings advised MPCA officials to truck the trash away to be burned or buried elsewhere. "I don't understand" = MPCA didn't do a good enough job communicating the risk management -- or the person quoted represents people who aren't willing to expend the energy to understand. "I don't understand" just isn't the same as "I don't agree with" or "I do understand and I still think this is a poor choice". I do sympathize with people who don't understand it, and don't have the scientific knowledge to know which questions to ask. If someone doesn't understand, and they're not an environmental toxicologist or hazardous waste controller ... how do we expect them to even be able to question our decisions? Ah, back to my criticism of modern American educational system. Although, I would likely have supported hauling it off to incinerate it. Still, this "make this someone else's problem" just aggravates me. I don't like the fact there's arsenic in the neighborhood near mine - but it's not like the MPCA or EPA is going to pull up the top soil for an entire neighborhood and bury it somewhere else. Until someone figures out how to make money at it. .

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