Major waste hauling to begin soon at Edgewater

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It’s been about two months since contractors began the initial work to clean up the former North Edgewater Park dump site, and starting later this week, crews will begin hauling truckloads of waste from the former landfill to the new lined cell in the Albert Lea Transfer Station on Richway Drive.

Closed Landfill Program Project Manager Don Abrams with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said work on the North Edgewater Park Landfill project officially began the end of August, and since then crews have been busy building the new 11-acre composite-lined cell, which will house the waste. The liner is slated to be finished by Tuesday.

Soils from a hot spot right outside of the transfer station, containing high levels of volatile organics, have already been transferred to a portion of the new cell, with the majority of it still open for the waste from the North Edgewater Park site, Abrams said.

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A little bit of waste from Edgewater has been brought out to the site to make a ramp for the trucks to use, but other than that, the major hauling has yet to take place, he said. Hauling should continue until the end of March.

Abrams said the work has gone according to schedule so far, and crews have lost very few days because of weather.

The new composite-lined cell is built at a spot where the city had at some point intended to expand the landfill, he said. He explained that when the old landfill waste is transferred to the cell, it will be on top of a liner and then covered with a buffer layer of soil. On top of the buffer layer will be another liner, then a drainage net and two feet of dirt. After all of these layers are in place, the area will be seeded.

Abrams said a dozen gas vents will be drilled into the cell once the waste is in place to extract gas from it. Liquids are also being extracted from the waste and then treated. The project is under constant chemical testing.

The work comes after the city approached the state Legislature in 2006 for funding to clean up the site, which was discovered in the late 1980s to have contaminants that were seeping into Edgewater Bay. The Legislature granted the MPCA $3.5 million to work with Albert Lea in cleaning up the site.

When estimates for the cost of the project came up higher than that amount, the city went back to the Legislature to request additional funding. Earlier this year, an additional $2.5 million in bonding funds from the state was awarded.

The 30-acre Edgewater Park landfill site was originally used as a sand and gravel mining operation, and from 1956 to 1972 it served as the Albert Lea Dump, accepting municipal solid waste — which included mixed commercial, industrial and residential wastes.

When the dump was in operation, pits were filled with the waste and open burning was practiced. It was used until the newer landfill was built.

When operations of the dump ceased, the site was covered with lake sediments dredged from Fountain Lake and there was no formal engineered closure of the area.

The area has since begun to produce vinyl chloride and other metals, and the MPCA has investigated the site looking at the extent of the contamination.

Abrams said crews will be working on about five acres of land at a time at the North Edgewater Park site. How deep they will dig will vary depending on how much waste is in each area. They will dig another foot or two below where the last of the waste was and perform a chemical scan to make sure that dirt below is not contaminated.

He said he knows people are upset about the road detour in effect because of the project but it was done in the interest of public safety.

Anything that comes into contact with the waste from the former landfill is considered contaminated, he added. There will be daily cleanup for anything that spills on the roadways.

Bids for the project came in about $1 million under what was estimated. Abrams attributed this to contractors not being as busy.

He said this was good just in case any surprises are found along the way that may require additional funds. If there’s extra money left over, those bonds from the state will not be sold.

Already crews have found some unique items reminiscent of the past among the waste, including an old doll and newspapers from the 1950s.