According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Gofer Landfill, located in Martin County, has the highest detected level of PFAS contamination among all closed landfills in the state.
The agency tested for PFAS in groundwater at 101 of the 110 sites in the Closed Landfill Program.
Often call “forever chemicals,” per and polyfluoroalkyl substances are commonly used in many products, but some of the most studied PFAS are know to be hazardous to human health, according to the MPCA. PFAS, which are man made, have been linked to cancer and, according to the MPCA, are found in water, sediment, soil and fish across the state.
Gofer, which closed in 1986, is one of 59 closed landfills in 41 Minnesota counties with more than 10 times the state health guidelines for PFAS. Although no landfill contamination was found in drinking water wells near the site, PFAS has been detected in a creek adjacent to Gofer, according to Prairieland Solid Waste Management Director Billeye Rabbe.
Rabbe says that Gofer was closed in the ‘80s and they’re finding that items are still leaching PFAS into the surrounding groundwater.
Now, lawmakers like DFLer Rep. Jeff Brand, of St. Peter, are looking to ban the non-essential use of these chemicals.
Brand, the bill’s chief author, said his legislation would slow down the production of PFAS at their source.
Brand’s legislation is part of a package of bills that also includes efforts to prohibit PFAS in firefighting foam and disclose to consumers if PFAS were used in a product’s production.
“Forever chemicals” get their name because they don’t disperse once they make their way into a natural environment or an ecosystem, which means they ultimately they are there until they are cleaned up.
Success of the bill will depend on how non-essential PFAS are defined. The bill will be heard in committee next week.