Pig’s Eye Dump operated between 1956 and 1972, accepting waste from communities, businesses and industry in the east metro area. Much of the waste was deposited in wetland areas on the property. MPCA records show that an estimated 8.3 million cubic yards of waste was disposed of on the approximately 230-acre site. (Another former unpermitted area, the 38-acre Fish Hatchery Dump, is not included in this estimate.) This makes the Pig’s Eye Dump the largest unpermitted dump site in the state.
From 1977 to 1985, the site also was used for the disposal of wastewater treatment sludge ash by the Metropolitan Council Wastewater Treatment Plant. An estimated 236,000 cubic yards of ash were placed on top of old garbage.
What's been done
There are several ways that “hot spots” of contamination have been eliminated or minimized. Starting in 1999, remediation efforts have included:
- Removing exposed drums of waste along Battle Creek.
- Augmenting the shoreline of Pig’s Eye Lake with organic rich soils that have slowed the migration of contaminants into it.
- Stabilizing lead-contaminated soil in the battery disposal area by mixing it with a cement-like substance that fixes the lead, keeping it from running off the site or leaching into the groundwater.
- Covering the entire site with at least two feet of clean soil and planting trees to prevent erosion and draw contaminants from the groundwater.
- Filling in ponds in the southeast and southwest portions of the dump with organic rich soil and planting the areas with trees to prevent erosion and encourage biological removal of contaminants.
What's being planned
It is unlikely that Pig’s Eye Dump will ever be completely cleaned up. Standard methods of addressing environmental impacts from old landfills will not work here. Since the dump is in a flood plain, installing a nonpermeable cover to prevent rain and snowmelt from seeping through the wastes would be of no use. An active system to pump out contaminated groundwater is unlikely to work, because the dump is too close to the river. And, the huge amount of garbage in the dump makes it vastly expensive to remove it and incinerate or dispose of it elsewhere.
At this time, the MPCA wants to minimize the amount of contaminated leachate and groundwater that flows out of the site and into Battle Creek. To do this, the MPCA proposes to remove contaminated soil and waste from portions of the Battle Creek streambank and replace it with organic rich soil. Contaminants leaching out of the dump bind to this type of soil and it reduces the amount of pollutants that reach the creek. The area will be revegetated to prevent erosion and encourage additional biological removal of contaminants.
The soil and waste removed from the streambank will be relocated elsewhere on the site and covered with clean soil. Groundwater will be monitored to determine impacts.
Stephanie Ryno, Project Engineer
Mike Bares, Project Hydrogeologist
For information about health impacts, contact:
Phil Monson, Risk Assessor — MPCA Water Quality Standards Unit