Land Programs references a range of regulatory programs with the purpose of preventing contamination of the land or water through land-based activities, or to cleanup sites identified as contaminated. On this page, topics include Tanks, Redevelopment/Cleanup Programs, Waste Programs and Feedlots.
Land can become contaminated from improper or careless waste disposal, accidental spills, illegal dumping or leaking storage tanks; some land has been contaminated from industrial and other human activities that were not well regulated in the past.
Contaminated soils can pose a variety of health and environmental hazards – especially if the pollutant persists in the soil, or has moved to waters near or below the soil – and can expose humans and other animals to the contaminants through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact. Land pollution laws and rules are in place to control how wastes may be disposed to prevent future contamination, as well as to govern how and when to clean up contaminated sites.
Use the MPCAs What's in My Neighborhood tool — an interactive map or text-based search — to locate sites or properties that have been investigated and/or cleaned up through MPCA programs.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the federal law administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the safe management and cleanup of solid and hazardous waste, and programs that encourage source reduction and beneficial reuse. In Minnesota, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) oversees the federal requirements and the Waste Management Act of 1980, which provides a foundation and framework for managing solid waste in Minnesota, including adopting the federal standards, and directing how mixed municipal solid waste (garbage), construction and demolition debris, and industrial solid waste are managed. Laws and rules for the management of animal waste is administered by the MPCA and Minnesota counties.
Tanks and other containers that hold materials that may pollute the land or water are regulated to prevent contamination through accidental spills and leaks from tanks. Minnesota programs are administered by the MPCA, with the exception of Oil Spills Prevention and Preparedness Regulations, which are administered for facilities in Minnesota by the EPA.
To address past pollution, a variety of federal and state cleanup programs are in place to contain or cleanup past contamination of land. These programs are largely overseen by the MPCA, and include the state and federal Superfund, Brownfield and Underground Storage Tank cleanup programs.
At the University, Environmental Compliance staff in DEHS administer the regulatory requirements and permit oversight associated with land.
There are a number of University operations that can impact land quality – including trash and waste generation from student, academic, research and operations activities, as well as impacts to the land from accidental spills and releases, and storage of materials that can pollute the land and water. Potentially land-impacting activities include:
- Collection of trash and recyclables for disposal at a landfill; burning for energy recovery (UMTC); or management for waste recovery – such as reuse and recycling.
- Storage of fuels used for emergency power generation; heating of steam for heating, cooling and energy production; fleet vehicle operations – including UMPD, UMarket, Food and Dining, Athletics, and lawn and street maintenance.
- Storage of oils and greases for equipment and building maintenance; operation of hydraulics in elevators, escalators and other hydraulic equipment, and operation of electrical transformers.
- Storage of other fuels, chemicals and oils in support of academic research and other projects.
- Storage of food-grade oils for dining operations.
- Management of chemical wastes and other problem wastes from research and academic areas, as well as from operations such as lawn care and agricultural operations. Items such as mercury-containing products, paints/thinners, solvents, oils, pesticides/herbicides/fertilizers and other chemicals are not suitable for the trash or sewering.
- Purchase/construction on land that has been impacted by previous spills, leaks, improper or illegal disposal, or other industrial contamination.
Environmental Compliance staff in DEHS review plans and proposals for waste storage and disposal; installation, usage and removal of tanks; and assessing current and proposed University property usages. They also determine which requirements, policies and/or best management practices are applicable to the particular activity or piece of equipment. If permitting or licensing is required, the permit/license must be in place prior to the discharge or activity beginning, including any required measures, procedures, or best management practices. Permitting is coordinated by Environmental Compliance staff. Documentation of regulatory determinations and other compliance activities is maintained by Environmental Compliance staff.