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Bloomington mayor, state officials look for solution should massive garbage incinerator close

State officials look into a solution for controversial Minneapolis garbage incinerator
State officials look into a solution for controversial Minneapolis garbage incinerator 02:27

MINNEAPOLIS — At least one metro mayor is urging Hennepin County to reconsider a plan to shut down the garbage incinerator in downtown Minneapolis.

The Hennepin Energy Recovery Center, or HERC, burns trash and then uses the steam to create energy. But a new state law no longer considers that renewable energy, so commissioners want HERC closed as early as 2028.

The HERC, built in 1989, sits right next to Target Field.

"I think it's especially noticeable driving into work here and it's really noticeable in the winter," said resident Danee Voss.

Voss works nearby in North Minneapolis. She thinks closing the plant is the right call for the safety of her neighbors and friends.

"I think it really speaks to what making a better environment for them to grow up in and also to limit the health impacts for their futures," said Voss.

According to state and county lawmakers, those concerns, among others, now outweigh the benefits of burning the trash and providing power to some 25,000 houses.

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The county, following the state's lead, also wants to reduce the amount of waste, period.

About 40% of all the trash in Hennepin County is destroyed by the HERC.

Whether it's the right decision or wrong decision to close this place, that conversation is an important one but it almost doesn't matter. The cities and officials have to figure out what happens next.

In Bloomington, Mayor Tim Busse says organics and recycling help divert 36% of the city's waste, but it's unrealistic to think that could ever reach 100%.

"About 17,000 tons of Bloomington's trash goes to the HERC every year. It's going to have to go somewhere else, so it's going to have to go to a landfill," said Busse.

A possible solution would be the divert the trash to a landfill in Burnseville. However, Bloomington officials worry that if that landfill is expanded to accommodate their trash, that dump may turn into a mountain of trash that rivals a ski hill.

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Busse also warns that it may cost residents in the metro area more too.

"And if not those landfills, it will be landfills beyond the Metropolitan area so then we've got trucks, semis driving 200 miles, which from an environmental justice standpoint makes no sense," said Busse.

The mayor said a group of officials from other cities hope to work with the county on other solutions.

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners has asked their Administrator to prepare a more definitive transition plan by Feb. 1.

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