Skip to main content

PFAS, otherwise known as 'forever chemicals' found at nearly all of Minnesota's closed landfills

These "forever chemicals" were found at 98 of the 101 closed landfills the MPCA tested.
Landfill plastic bags

The groundwater at 60 closed landfills in Minnesota is contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also called "forever chemicals," at levels that exceed the Minnesota Department of Health's values for PFAS. 

That's according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)'s new findings that were released on Thurdsay.

“The MPCA has found PFAS contamination in almost every closed landfill it oversees,” said MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop. “Once again, our assessments tell us that PFAS is everywhere in our environment. That’s why the agency needs the ability to use dedicated funds more flexibly to rapidly respond to these urgent contamination incidents.”

In total, 98 of the 101 closed landfills MPCA tested have PFAS contamination in the groundwater. Fifty-nine of the landfills in 41 counties have groundwater with PFAS contamination that exceeds state guidance values, and 15 landfills have PFAS contamination that exceeds health guidance values by at least 10 times. 

Here's a map of where those landfills are: 

PFAS landfills

The Gofer landfill north of Fairmont in Martin County has PFAS in the groundwater that exceeds state health guidelines by 1,343 times. PFAS contamination has been found in nearly all of the monitoring wells at the landfill, as well as an adjacent creek and one off-site temporary monitoring well. 

The good news is all drinking water wells within 1 mile of the landfill have been tested and PFAS was not detected in any of them. 

Here's a look at the other landfills with the highest PFAS contamination levels:

PFAS counties

Following this report, which comes after the MPCA last month launched a statewide blueprint to address PFAS, is asking the Minnesota Legislature for the ability to use funds in the Closed Landfill Investment Fund during the 2021 Minnesota legislative session so it can rapidly address unexpected environmental releases or incidents. 

State law requires the MPCA to wait until the legislature appropriates funding before responding to a contamination incident. But legislative delays and gridlock could put communities at risk, the MPCA says. 

In addition to seeking flexibility with funds, the MPCA says it will expand its water monitoring to ensure drinking water is monitored. The agency will also continue to sample groundwater at the landfill sites to determine the impact of PFAS contamination and take remedial actions, such as installing an engineered system to pup groundwater that will control the movement and reduce contamination.

In 2018, Twin Cities-based Fortune 500 company 3M agreed a $850 million settlement with the State of Minnesota to fund efforts to address its decades-long disposal of PFAS in areas of the east Twin Cities metro, which found their way into water supplies.

Next Up


3 dead after plane crashes into house in Hermantown

Two people in the house were uninjured.


Destructive fire at Maple Grove greenhouse and nursery

The fire burned early Sunday morning at a longtime Maple Grove greenhouse and nursery.

st. cloud state university hockey

SCSU player hospitalized after being taken off ice on stretcher

Luedtke was checked into the boards in the first period and down for a reported 10-15 minutes.

Amber alert wisconsin

Amber Alert in Wisconsin: Search for missing 15-year-old girl

Police believe 15-year-old Kryssy King may be with a 22-year-old man.

Screen Shot 2022-10-01 at 10.18.12 AM

3 St. Paul fast food restaurants robbed in space of an hour

The thieves struck between 7:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Screen Shot 2022-10-01 at 9.06.40 AM

What to do with the Kmart site? Minneapolis wants your ideas

The project will connect Nicollet Avenue south of Lake street and north of the Midtown Greenway, reestablishing a street grid.

Screen Shot 2022-10-01 at 7.53.55 AM

Crowd evacuated at end of homecoming football game in Brooklyn Park

Police blamed 'unruly teens' in the stands and some who were trying to enter the stadium.


State to help 44 Minnesota gas stations add E15 pumps

The yellow 88 button is coming to more gas stations in Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 4.54.42 PM

FBI, police investigating bank robbery at Edina's 50th and France

An ATM technician was robbed by four men at a U.S. Bank.

Ethan Glynn

Paralyzed Bloomington football player begins rehabilitation in Colorado

Ethan Glynn is at a world-renowned rehabilitation hospital.


Landfill plastic bags

4 Twin Cities landfills seek to expand capacity

This comes as the area's waste-to-energy facilities are operating at capacity.


Massive Burnsville landfill expansion nears final approvals

The City of Burnsville and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency are accepting public feedback on the proposal.

Cliffs Natural Resources to pay $300K fine, improve Silver Bay landfill

Cliffs Natural Resources has agreed to pay a $242,973 civil penalty to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and make improvements to the coal ash landfill at Northshore Mining plant in Silver Bay, the Duluth News Tribune reports. The company will also contribute $75,000 toward an expansion of the household hazardous waste reuse center in Duluth.


Burnsville approves measure that will make its landfill much taller

The expansion will increase the landfill's allowable height by an additional 268 feet.

mudslide highway

Mudslide, flooding closes highways in Minnesota, Wisconsin

Heavy rains Monday have caused problems in southern Minnesota, closing four highways.

Grand Portage State Park

Senate GOP threatens State Parks, DNR shutdown if 'Clean Cars' rule isn't scrapped

Republicans are willing to hold up the omnibus environment bill to stop the MPCA from enacting Clean Cars rules.