City, county mull solid waste agreement
With the 2014 legislative session fast approaching, Goodhue County and city of Red Wing committees are working to piece together a solution to local solid-waste issues that have persisted for years.
The first step would be an agreement between the county, city and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to close the Bench Street landfill and divert all countywide municipal waste to Red Wing’s refuse-derived fuel operation, according to a Committee of the Whole discussion Tuesday.
“What we need to do is set a stage to let the state know if this is something the county and city are interested in,” Goodhue County Public Works Director Greg Isakson said. “Then we need to send a message to the state so they can start working on a legislative bill.”The goal is to have the landfill entered into the MPCA’s Closed Landfill Program, in which the agency would assume responsibility for closing and monitoring the site.Which incinerator?Once the landfill is turned over to the MPCA, the county could then relinquish flow control to the city so it to begin taking in the trash, Isakson said.Red Wing has a contract with Xcel Energy to process solid waste for the utility company’s waste-to-energy operations at the local steam plant; alternatively, City Council could decide to burn the waste using the city’s incinerator.“They need to decide which way they’re going,” Isakson said, as each operation will affect tip fees charged to trash haulers for dumping in Red Wing and alter the city’s business plan.There also is a possibility the city would have to operate the landfill temporarily for waste that is not suitable for burning as fuel, estimated near 11 percent of all material collected, Isakson said.There is around 26,000 tons of municipal solid waste produced in the county each year, according to a 2012 report. As much as 18,000 tons of it is hauled to Red Wing.The landfill costs the county approximately $65,000 a year to monitor and for a line of credit in case a hazard is found that requires cleanup, Isakson said. Transferring the landfill to the MPCA would eliminate that cost, but the county would have to pay around $1.8 million in “financial assurance” to cover closure expenses.The city will continue the discussion of solid-waste operations at a workshop March 3, Red Wing Public Works Director Rick Moskwa said.