“Ask the MPCA” features questions the agency has received on waste disposal, water and air quality, chemicals in products, recycling and reuse, contaminated sites, septic systems, and much more. If you have a question for MPCA staff, submit it via our web site.
Question: We have a neighbor to the south of us that tore down a residential homestead property, dug a hole for the debris, and is now using it as a landfill for their junk. Last weekend, an old camper was dumped into the hole. Is this legal? Is there something that can be done?
Answer: Your neighbor is NOT allowed to start a personal dump, and you should start by contacting your county’s solid waste services. Some counties are able to follow up on complaints themselves, but some counties will request that the MPCA follow up.
The MPCA regulates landfills in Minnesota, reviewing construction and expansion plans and issuing permits. A properly built landfill is not just a hole in the ground. Ideally, it should be lined so that rain and snowmelt that percolate through the garbage do not carry contaminants into nearby soil, groundwater, lakes, or streams. Landfill operators must be trained and certified by the MPCA, and landfills have restrictions on the types of waste they accept. In short, landfill owners and operators have to adhere to many regulations to ensure their facilities are not a danger to the environment or human health.