MPCA fines Northern Iron for 15 years of violations

A St. Paul business will need to pay thousands of dollars of fines for more than a decade of violations, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

According to the MPCA, Northern Iron LLC will need to pay $41,500 for removing, modifying or replacing pollution control equipment throughout the facility without seeking required amendments to its air quality permits before making the equipment changes.

MPCA officials say they inspected the facility five separate times over the course of 15 years, and each time, the company didn’t do the mandatory disclosures for equipment changes or updates. The agency adds those disclosures are required under the Northern Iron’s permit.

State officials say the company not only removed and replaced emission units and control equipment, but it also didn’t recertify hoods after making changes and also operated its pollution control equipment out of permitted ranges. They add the business also didn’t fully list its facility’s activities that would require it to do ambient air modeling.

Some potential harmful effects could be caused by the violations, including ensuring changes won’t increase emissions or having less efficiency for capturing particulate matter, according to the state.

The agency says in addition to the fine, the business will need to send in a plan to make sure initial and annual hood certifications are done on time, look for appropriate permit amendments when it needs to replace or remove equipment, send in a major permit amendment, air modeling protocol and modeling results; keep track and send in daily operating hours for operations and more.