BY ANDREA VARGO
HOWARD LAKE - "I want to review the tape of the council meeting where Superior Landfill requested support from us. I think we were given some misinformation, and I want to be sure," said Howard Lake Mayor Mark Custer.
Al Deruyter, an unofficial spokesperson for a concerned group of citizens who oppose the expansion of the landfill on Wright County Rd. 37 south of Monticello, spoke to the council Tuesday.
He said, "I'd like to provide enough information to help the council make a decision on whether or not to support the landfill.
Deruyter provided the following information about the Milwaukee based company.
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been prepared by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) on a proposal by Superior FCR Landfill, Inc. to construct an expansion of the existing landfill located in Monticello Township.
Superior proposes to construct a 70.9-acre expansion. Thirty-six acres of that is over the existing landfill.
With both vertical and horizontal expansion, the final height of the landfill will be 160 feet above the existing ground level.
"These dimensions put the size of this landfill into what is called a mega or regional landfill," said Deruyter.
Deruyter said, "When the Wright County Board of Commissioners put a moratorium on a number of land uses in the county, Superior filed a lawsuit against our county for "foot dragging."
The court of appeals threw it out, he said.
What you can do
As a citizen, Deruyter said, each person can become familiar with the proposed expansion by reading the information that was sent by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to each township.
"Your Commissioners want to hear your concerns about water quality, property values, methane gas emissions, long term liability and expenses, and the visual impact of such a mountain of garbage.
The group of citizens that is trying to alert the public to the issues in this landfill debate has developed a position on the landfill expansion.
The proposed expansion is counter to federal, state, and local policy, Deruyter said.
Additional landfill capacity would encourage greater land disposal at a time when environmental protection, wise land use, an resource conservation principals need advancement, he said.
"The Office of Environmental Assessment says our waste streams should be viewed as a resource, rather than garbage," said Deruyter.
It encourages people to reduce waste, reuse and recycle.
"Landfilling is the last resort and the most environmentally damaging," he said.
Deruyter maintains the county and surrounding areas do not need additional landfill capacity. Ample capacity is permitted at existing sites.
Groundwater, air, and the character of the landscape are all at risk, he said, and alternate disposal methods should be encouraged.
"I tip my hat to the efforts Superior is making to keep the landfill from polluting," said Deruyter, "but we all know if you bury a plastic bag of garbage, it (the plastic bag) will break down."
According information from reporting by the landfills in Minnesota, the Yonak-FCR landfill, that is now owned by Superior, took in 117,977 cubic yards of garbage in 1995.
In 1996, after the change of ownership, the landfill took in 790,450 cubic yards of garbage.
"Did Wright County throw that much more stuff away? I don't think so," said Deruyter.
If only garbage from the county were put into the landfill, it would take 50-60 years to reach capacity, he said.
Therefore, logically, this garbage is coming from outside the county.
Garbage from Itasca County (and other areas) is being dumped at Superior, where it used to go to Iowa, said Deruyter.
Deruyter gave a background on Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), so the council members would have an idea of what is going into the landfill.
He said MSW goes out in the average persons garbage can every week. SLF has a permit for that unprocessed municipal waste for only a small portion of that space.
The company gets around that by using a loophole in the law. If Itasca County delivers its MSW to a central transfer station and loads it onto larger trucks, it is considered "processed."
"There are no transfer stations in Wright County," said Deruyter.
"It turns out that every county can send all its unprocessed waste to SLF. There is no law preventing a landfill from bringing in garbage from anywhere," he said.
Deruyter told the council he hoped the information provided was valuable.
"If anyone has a concern, the county commissioners would like to hear from you," he said.