On Thursday, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced findings that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination had been found in 98 out of 101 closed landfills across the state, and that 59 of these closed landfills in 41 counties have levels that exceed the Minnesota Department of Health’s health-based guidance values for PFAS. PFAS are forever chemicals that have been shown to cause adverse health effects such as changes in development, liver and thyroid function, immune response, increased kidney damage, and certain cancers.
To address this contamination, the MPCA has requested use of funds from the Closed Landfill Investment Fund to respond, which requires legislative action. Without legislative approval, Minnesota communities could be put at risk.
In response, Senator Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Minneapolis), Senator Steve Cwodzinski (DFL-Eden Prairie), Senator Jim Carlson (DFL-Eagan), Senator Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park), Senator Matt Klein (DFL-Mendota Heights), Senator Lindsey Port (DFL-Burnsville), and Senator Jen McEwen (DFL-Duluth) issued the following joint statement:
“Yesterday’s announcement by the MPCA reveals that the public health threat of PFAS is even greater than what we thought, and that it poses a risk to communities throughout our state. Unless the legislature takes action to provide funding and flexibility for the MPCA, this threat will only continue to grow, and put more people’s health in danger.
The MPCA and other state agencies have released Minnesota’s PFAS Blueprint, which is a strategic guide outlining immediate, short- and long-term steps we can take to address this challenge. While we have a lot of work to do to address PFAS and other forever chemicals, the first step we must take is to allow the MPCA to use funds from the Closed Landfill Investment Fund to tackle the contamination that is so prevalent across the state.
This is a problem that affects metro, suburban, and rural communities, and requires a statewide effort. We urge our colleagues in the majority to work with us to give the MPCA the funding and flexibility they need to address this urgent health risk.”