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Regulators find ‘forever chemicals’ in 60 closed landfills

March 18, 2021 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Pollution regulators said Thursday that contamination from toxic man-made “forever chemicals” has been detected in groundwater at nearly 60 closed landfills in Minnesota, with amounts exceeding levels for safe drinking water.

The pharmaceuticals, microplastics and synthetic chemicals are known collectively as PFAS. The Minnesota Control Agency said 15 landfills have PFAS contamination at least 10 times higher than acceptable limits and one landfill in Marion County registered at 1,300 times higher.

“These closed landfills are throughout the state,” said Laura Bishop, the agency’s commissioner. “They are in suburbs, greater Minnesota regional centers and small rural communities. They are next to our homes, our businesses and our farms.”

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Last month, in a meeting that included leaders from other state agencies, lawmakers and environmental activists, Bishop and other regulators unveiled the Minnesota PFAS Blueprint. It calls for stronger regulations and an additional $3 million in state funding over the next two years to help researchers identify sources of PFAS in the environment.

Two PFAS compounds that were long manufactured by 3M in Minnesota were discovered in the drinking water supplies of the east Twin Cities metro area in the early 2000s. The state in 2018 settled a lawsuit against 3M over the contamination after the company agreed to pay $850 million.