The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Closed Landfill Program (CLP) is a voluntary program established by the Legislature in 1994 to properly close, monitor, and maintain Minnesota's closed municipal sanitary landfills. There are currently 109 closed landfills in the CLP.
The 1994 Landfill Cleanup Act created Minnesota’s CLP as an alternative to Superfund for cleaning up and maintaining closed landfills. The first such program in the nation, CLP is unique because it is the only program that gives the MPCA the responsibility to “manage” up to 112 closed, state-permitted, mixed municipal solid waste landfills to mitigate risks to the public and the environment.
The CLP’s goals — to help effectively protect human health, safety and the environment — include managing the risks associated with human exposure to landfill contaminants and methane gas, and mitigating the degradation of groundwater and surface water. The CLP manages risk at these sites by:
- monitoring environmental impacts and site conditions associated with each landfill;
- determining the risk each landfill poses to public health, safety and the environment;
- implementing remedial response actions to help reduce site risks;
- maintaining the landfill properties, the landfill covers, and operating any remedial systems that are necessary;
- managing land issues on the land the CLP is responsible for;
- working with local governments to incorporate land-use controls at and near the landfills to protect human health and safety, as well as the state’s investment involving response actions taken and equipment purchased; and
- measuring how well the CLP is managing the risk at the landfills.
The CLP manages the risk to public health and safety in a cyclical fashion referred to as the “Risk Management Cycle.” First, site information pertinent to understanding the risks at each landfill (monitoring groundwater, methane gas, nearby land use) is collected and stored in a database.
Second, the CLP evaluates the information, identifies the risks at each site and determines each site’s numerical risk using a risk-scoring model, and identifies the most practical response actions needed to lower the risk.
Third, response actions are implemented based on several factors, including risk-score ranking, available resources (funds, staff), other required site work (operation and maintenance, land surveys, repairs), and other initiatives that are MPCA and program priorities (e.g., renewable energy).
Fourth, the response actions implemented are measured for effectiveness and the monitoring of site conditions is continued.
Funding to do this work comes from the MPCA’s Remediation Fund (solid waste management tax), state general obligation bonds, and past settlements with insurance carriers that provided landfill-related insurance coverage.
Landfills are accepted into the CLP when certain requirements, as stated in a Landfill Cleanup Agreement (typically executed between landfill owners/operators and the state) are met. Once these requirements are fulfilled, a Notice of Compliance is issued to the owner/operator. At this point, the site enters the program and the CLP takes over responsibility for the landfill.
Closed landfill locations
Use the interactive Landfill Cleanup Act Participants map to view a closed landfill's groundwater plume, groundwater area of concern, methane area of concern, and monitoring locations. Click on the features to view additional information. Share a zoomed in view of the map on social media. Print a map with a custom title.
Click on the thumbnail image to launch the application.
The CLP evaluates landfill data and uses a scoring model to determine risk at each site. Landfills with high risk scores receive a high ranking on the CLP’s Risk Priority List. The CLP will then identify appropriate response actions that will help reduce these risk scores. Response actions can range from constructing new liners and covers to installing gas vents and implementing Closed Landfill Use Plans.
Land use plans
The Landfill Cleanup Act requires the MPCA to develop a land use plan (LUP) for each qualified landfill in the CLP. All local LUPs must be consistent with the MPCA's LUP.
Essentially, the LUP will compare land-use designations and zoning ordinances prescribed by the local unit of government to the MPCA's future land-use plans for the landfill. If these are in conflict, the local government's land-use designations and ordinances will need to be modified so they are compatible with the MPCA's LUPs.
The MPCA will provide local units of government with updated site information when there are significant changes at a landfill. Such changes generally include changes in the groundwater and methane gas areas of concern or the need for additional response actions due to increased site risks. Local units of government can use this information to determine appropriate land-use controls for properties adjacent to the landfill to protect public health and safety.
Renewable energy options
Many of the landfills in the CLP are conducive to renewable energy opportunities, such as solar, because of the availability of large tracts of open space. Developers of solar farms have approached the Closed Landfill Program, often due to legislative requirements and economic incentives provided to the solar industry.
Recently, the Minnesota Legislature established the Made in Minnesota Solar Energy Production Incentive to encourage consumers to undertake solar development projects. The fact sheet below provides more details about the incentive program and how the CLP anticipates saving electrical costs at two of its landfills.
Before 2014, the Landfill Cleanup Act (MN Stats. 115B.412 subd. 10) required the CLP to provide a report to the Legislature on past fiscal-year activities and anticipated future work. The most recent report is available below.
Fiscal Year 2015 accomplishments
- Closed Landfill Program: Fiscal Year 2015 program expenditures
- Closed Landfill Program: Fiscal Year 2015 Site Costs