Board to speak out on landfill permit delay

MARSHALL – The wait for a state permit to build a new trash-collecting cell at the Lyon County sanitary landfill has been a long one. If it goes on much longer, it could jeopardize construction or leave the region looking for another place to send its waste, Lyon County commissioners learned on Tuesday. The news spurred commissioners to put off awarding bids for part of the construction and instead call for a meeting with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency officials.

The county has plans to build a new landfill cell this summer, just west of the cell currently being used for trash disposal. The new cell would cover about eight acres of land and would be expected to last about six to eight years before filling up.

During the county board’s regular meeting Tuesday, Lyon County Environmental Administrator Paul Henriksen and Randall Sippel of Liesch Associates were scheduled to present construction bids for the protective liner of the new landfill cell. However, Sippel first warned commissioners that they may need to consider some alternative plans, depending on how the permit process goes.

As of Tuesday, Sippel said, the MPCA was still drafting a permit for the new cell. He said it’s possible that the draft will be completed by the end of the week. But if the process takes too much longer, it may postpone the start of construction to August instead of July.

Sippel said a shorter construction window could mean trouble for the project and for landfill operations, especially if the current landfill cell gets filled up before the new one can be finished. He said possible alternatives included hauling waste to another landfill until the new cell is finished, moving forward on pre-construction work to save time, or building a cell about half the size originally planned, in order to finish construction before winter.

“There would likely be a significant increase in cost” to change the construction plans, Sippel said. He estimated a cost increase of about 25 to 30 percent.

“That’s really not an option to me,” said Commissioner Rodney Stensrud. But at the same time, he said, he didn’t like the idea of moving ahead on the project without a state permit. “We’d really be overstepping our bounds.”

Henriksen and Sippel said the county could hold off on awarding construction bids until later in the month, if the draft permit came in.

Commissioner Steve Ritter said the landfill’s been waiting more than 500 days for the permit, and that was unacceptable. Ritter said he wanted the county board to get together with representatives from the seven counties the landfill serves, and meet with the MPCA commissioner.

“Put them on the spot,” Ritter said.

Sippel said it might be difficult to meet with the MPCA commissioner on short notice, although the county might be able to meet with other supervisors in the MPCA’s waste division.

Commissioner Charlie Sanow moved that the board table the construction bids for now and arrange a meeting with the MPCA. The motion met with unanimous approval. Ritter suggested that it would also be a good idea to let state politicians know about the situation with the landfill permit.