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Water Gremlin will pay major penalty for release of air pollutant, MPA says

March 01, 2019 06:47 PM

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says a White Bear Lake-based company has agreed to pay a major penalty for violations of its air quality permit.

A release said Water Gremlin agreed to pay $7 million for its releases of an air pollutant linked to birth defects and certain types of cancer. The company will pay a civil penalty of $4.5 million, take corrective actions at their site and conduct air monitoring for several years (estimated to cost around $1 million) and conduct two supplemental environmental projects (estimated to cost at least $1.5 million).

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RELATED: Neighbors worried about health after White Bear company halts production due to emissions concerns

The release alleges the company released trichloroethylene (TCI) into the air above the level allowed in their permit resulting in exposure to TCE levels above health benchmarks set by the Minnesota Department of Health in the surrounding neighborhoods.

"Water Gremlin violated the laws and breached the trust by allowing a toxic chemical, TCE, to be released at levels that far exceeded what it's permit authorized," MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop said.

"This should not have happened, and with most permitted businesses it does not happen."

An investigation found the health risk could cover an area extending up to 1.5 miles from the facility.

Bishop said the settlement with Water Gremlin is one of the largest environmental penalties in state history.

There is no information to suggest drinking water in any surrounding communities was impacted. But Jim Kelly of the Minnesota Department of Health said to provide reassurance, the MDH would work with the MPCA to sample a selected number of wells near the facility.

"We are doing this out of an abundance of caution and also to reassure that community residents who live closest to the facility haven't been impacted," Kelly said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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