Vonco V Duluth owns and operates a 75-acre landfill and transfer station complex in Duluth. Approximately 10 acres of the complex is permitted to accept construction and demolition debris.
In March 2012, Vonco’s consultants notified the MPCA that unpermitted wastes had been discovered in some samples taken at the landfill. Subsequent agency inspections discovered additional permit violations, including ex-posed asbestos, the company taking in unacceptable waste, and a failure to conduct and report accurate facility inspections. The transfer station and landfill were temporarily closed in May and reopened after corrective actions were taken.
In August 2012, the agency learned that 6.25 tons of Vonco’s mixed municipal solid waste had been dumped at a private residence. Vonco immediately retrieved the waste and transported it to an appropriately permitted facility
In response to the violations Vonco has agreed to pay a $60,000 civil penalty to resolve the violations and conduct the following compliance activities: submit an application to modify its permit, install additional groundwater monitoring and landfill cover systems, communicate with its customers about wastes it is permitted to accept, and make necessary permit amendments to reflect current property and facility ownership. Three of the required actions have already been completed.
In addition, Vonco will complete a $240,000 Supplemental Environmental Project to remove hazardous materials, demolish buildings, dispose of building materials and conduct site-restoration activities at what could amount to about 20 blighted properties in Duluth.
When calculating 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. The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.