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Posted on: November 5, 2018

Committee tables landfill expansion discussion

After lengthy discussion during a Committee of the Whole meeting on Oct. 30, the members of the Minot City Council tabled a decision on whether to expand the City of Minot landfill at its current location or move toward constructing a new landfill somewhere in the region.

Mayor Shaun Sipma moved to direct the City to apply for a state permit to expand the existing landfill, located on the southwest edge of Minot, just outside the city limits. Several council members, including Josh Wolsky, Stephan Podrygula, and Paul Pitner, expressed their desire to start the process of seeking a long-term alternative to the current landfill site.

Wolsky moved to develop a plan to expand the current landfill on a limited basis, but only until the year 2036. He also moved to create a regional waste management and recycling district with the goal of creating a 100-year landfill in the region, with a committee made up of representatives from Minot and rural entities.

City Manager Tom Barry expressed his concern that Wolsky’s amendment would need further research into cost estimates, legalities, and whether or not regional entities would be interested in joining such a venture.

After much discussion and some tinkering with the language of Wolsky’s amendment, the issue was tabled until a December committee of the whole meeting after a motion by Sipma.

The City of Minot began using the current landfill in 1971. Since then, as the city’s population and business community have grown, homes and businesses have been built in the area near 16th Street Southwest, including the Dakota Square Mall and the Green Acres subdivision. In 2017, the City of Minot purchased approximately 320 acres of land adjacent to the current landfill for future expansion. A request to the Minot Planning Commission to rezone the newly purchased land for public use was withdrawn by the City after concerns were raised about the landfill expansion.

As part of the ongoing discussion of the future of Minot’s current landfill, a focus group was created that included city employees and members of the public. The focus group, which held seven meetings, was comprised of 15 people, including city staff members and a consultant. The group included three people who live or own property adjacent to the landfill, three people from other parts of the city, and one representative each from Surrey, Burlington, Trinity Health, First District Health Unit, Ward County, and a private waste hauling company.

Sorenson said the study used a 20-mile radius of Minot in conducting a site analysis. The analysis identified two sites that could be potential sites for a landfill; one 18 miles east of Minot and one 12 miles west of Minot. Using those potential sites, a cost analysis was done to compare what it would cost for three options:

1: Expand current site: $75 million estimated total cost for 20 years; $3.7 million average yearly cost. Current monthly cost to average household of $16.22 would not change.

2: Build Site 1 (east of Minot): $111 million estimated total cost for 20 years; $5.6 million average yearly cost. Monthly cost to average household would increase by $7.04/month (43%).

3: Build Site 2 (west of Minot): $114 million estimated total cost for 20 years; $5.7 million average yearly cost. Monthly cost to average household would increase by $7.18/month (44%).

There would also be additional costs related to the City of Minot’s sanitation trucks driving 12 or 18 miles to either of the potential sites. Those costs would likely be passed on to Minot residents who use City sanitation services.

In 1993, the Environmental Protection Agency passed the Subtitle D Regulations, which were a host of new regulations that required landfills to have liners, leachate collection and monitoring, among other changes. When those were passed, Sorenson said many landfills in the country closed because they couldn’t afford the upgrades.

The City of Minot’s sanitation department collects approximately 15,000 tons of municipal solid waste yearly from the residential customers the City serves in Minot. Private haulers collect waste from some residential customers in Minot and all of the commercial waste in the city, which brings in another estimated 15,000 tons yearly. The landfill is also utilized by other area entities in surrounding counties, brining another 80,000 tons of municipal solid waste yearly to the Minot facility.

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