Contact: Anne Perry Moore, 218-723-2356
Duluth, Minn. -- Hill Wood Products Inc., recently paid an $11,550 civil penalty for alleged air quality violations and returned the facility to compliance, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced today.
The company owns and operates a sawmill and lumber processing facility in Cook, Minn. The facility converts birch logs into pallets and flooring, and burns wood waste for fuel. Many parts of the wood-handling process generate air emissions regulated by a state permit issued in 2006.
During a routine inspection and subsequent interactions with the company in 2007, MPCA staff documented equipment being operated without a required air quality permit and a failure to provide any records of equipment performance tests, visual emission inspections or daily fuel use.
The company has since applied for an amended air emissions permit, conducted required testing, monitoring and recordkeeping, submitted operating plans to minimize emissions, and fulfilled other related requirements. The agreement's remaining item, dependent upon a possible re-starting of its wood dryer and hammermill equipment, would require the company to submit air emissions test results within 60 days of the start date. If the test results fall within regulatory limits, this agreement's requirements will then be completed.
Stipulation agreements are one of the tools used by the MPCA to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first time or repeat violation and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner. For a comprehensive list of enforcement actions by the MPCA, go to the agency Web site at www.pca.state.mn.us/newscenter/enforcement.html.
Minnesota law requires owners and operators of facilities with the potential to release air pollutants to have MPCA permits. They must also carefully monitor and maintain equipment because emissions exceeding state standards can degrade air quality. The MPCA offers outreach and training to help facilities meet their permit requirements.
For more information on air quality permits and emission standards, visit the agency's Web site at www.pca.state.mn.us or call Steven Palzkill, MPCA air quality inspector, at 218-529-6255. All MPCA staff can also be reached toll-free at 1-800-657-3864.