Duluth company penalized by MPCA for waste violation will help remove city blight

By KBJR News 1

September 23, 2013 Updated Sep 24, 2013 at 10:11 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Following last week's announced agreement between Duluth and Vonco V to begin demolition on blighted properties in the city, Information released Monday by the MPCA shows the waste management company has a history of unpermitted waste in its Gary New Duluth landfill.

According to the MPCA, approximately 10 acres of the Vonco facility are permitted to accept construction and demolition debris, but in March of 2012, the MPCA was notified that violations, including unpermitted and unacceptable wastes, exposed asbestos, and a failure to conduct facility inspections had occurred at the site.

The landfill was temporarily closed in May and re-opened after corrective actions were taken.

Vonco has agreed to pay a $60,000 civil penalty to resolve the violations and the company has agreed to perform a $240,000 Supplemental Environmental Project involving the removal 20 blighted properties in Duluth.

Officials with the MPCA say agreements like the one between the city and Vonco are a common practice in resolving environmental violations.

"Supplemental environmental projects are something that commonly will use if we think there is something good that can come out of this, in this situation, they're doing again a supplemental environmental project that will take care of a lot of blighted homes, dilapidated homes that likely would not have been taken care of," said Steve Giddings, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

When deciding penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violations affected the environment, whether they were first-time or repeat violations, and how promptly the violations were reported to authorities.

On Monday, the Duluth City Council unanimously approved a resolution to contract Vonco V for blight demolition beginning as early as next month. Thirteen properties were approved to be demolished.

Jeremy Brickley
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