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Place: Pig's Eye Dump


Walker Art Center



Institution Walker Art Center
The Pig's Eye Dump is located on the Mississippi River floodplain east of downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, east of the Mississippi River, northeast of the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services Metro Wastewater Treatment Plant, and northwest of Pig's Eye Lake.

Pig's Eye Dump operated from 1956 to 1972, accepting waste from communities, businesses, and industries in the eastern metro area. Much of it was deposited in wetlands on the property. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) records show that an estimated 8.3 million cubic yards of waste were disposed of on the 250-acre property. This makes Pig's Eye Dump the largest dump in the state to operate without a permit.

From 1977 to 1985, the Metropolitan Waste Control Commission also used the site for the disposal of sludge ash. An estimated 236,000 cubic yards of ash were placed on top of old garbage in compliance with a solid-waste permit issued by the MPCA.

The MPCA listed Pig's Eye on the state superfund list, the Permanent List of Priorities, in 1989. The Minnesota Superfund program, like its larger federal namesake, deals with sites where past disposal of hazardous wastes poses a potential or actual threat to health or the environment. Superfund provides public funding under certain circumstances, but the state prefers to have the parties responsible for the problem undertake investigation and cleanup whenever possible. The MCPA began the process of identifying such parties at the Pig's Eye site in 1990. Subsequent investigation, and cleanup if needed, will proceed when responsible parties are identified.

Using a federal ranking system that helps to assess the risk posed to the environment, Pig's Eye scored 42.5 on a scale of 0 to 100. Among the specific environmental risks:

  • Discharges to Pig's Eye Lake, which exceed water-quality standards for polychlorinated biphenyls, lead, boron, cobalt, aluminum, zinc, ammonia, chloride, and mercury
  • High levels of lead in the soil where lead-acid batteries were dumped
  • Garbage, debris, and drums--some containing unknown substances--exposed by erosion from Battle Creek, which flows through the site and empties into Pig's Eye Lake
  • Lead- and cadmium-contaminated sediments in Pig's Eye Lake and on the shoreline
--From the MPCA Agency Wide Fact Sheet, August 19, 1991
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Type: Commentary, online content
Source: Place: Pig's Eye Dump, from the website Global Positioning: Exploring Contemporary World Art, 2003.
Rights: Copyright 2003 Walker Art Center
Added to Site: March 1, 2009