Minneapolis neighborhood holds meeting to discuss future of Smith Foundry

Meeting on future of Smith Foundry

Community members gathered Thursday night to discuss the future of the Smith Foundry in Minneapolis’ East Phillips neighborhood.

In November, residents called for the closure of the Foundry after uncovering records from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that show the company had been exceeding Minnesota emission limits of particulate matter since 2018 — without notifying the state.

Local organizers with the Climate Justice Committee (CJC) met at the East Phillips Community Center to discuss efforts to shut the Foundry down and ongoing adverse health impacts.

Officials with CJC say the meeting was organized in part as a response to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) pledging to continually meet with the community – however, authorities with the MPCA weren’t in attendance at Thursday’s meeting.

CJC representatives say the MPCA cited a “conflict of interest” and a lack of staff as the reason for not attending, but organizers say this contradicts the MPCA’s public comments.

“I have a personal belief that Smith Foundry needs to get out of here. That’s just the reality. They can no longer operate in the City of Minneapolis because they are polluting our neighborhood,” said Minneapolis City Councilor Jason Chavez during Thursday’s meeting.

RELATED: Residents rally to close the Smith Iron Foundry after EPA documents show high levels of particulate matter around the facility

As previously reported, according to EPA documents obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency ‘conducted air pollutant monitoring’ around the Foundry’s perimeter in October 2022 and April 2023, adding that both times, ‘elevated’ levels of airborne particulate matter were found.

The EPA followed up in May when inspectors found cracks and holes in the Foundry’s ductwork.

They also looked at the facility’s air emissions reports from 2018 to 2022. Those records show particulate matter emissions were more than twice the amount permitted by state regulators.

The MPCA says two new air quality monitors were installed this week, and they will be holding a community conversation about air quality next month.

The Foundry also said it is committed to working with regulators to correct any issues.