Contact: Anne Perry Moore 218-723-2356
Duluth, Minn. -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has reached an agreement with United Taconite LLC of Eveleth (UTAC) that resolves the company's alleged past failure to comply with state air quality rules and standards. As a result, the company will pay a $125,000 civil penalty, implement a facility compliance plan and could spend as much as $642,000 to conduct additional environmentally-beneficial projects.
UTAC mines taconite ore and produces taconite pellets at its Eveleth, Minn. plant. The pellets are hauled by rail to Duluth for storage, loading and shipment on the Great Lakes.
While analyzing UTAC's weekly coal analysis records from 2004 to 2008, MPCA staff discovered the facility's air emissions had exceeded permit limits for sulfur dioxide on numerous occasions. The company's permit requires them to sample and analyze the coal/petroleum coke blend that is burned for fuel in the facility's pellet furnace. Violations also included failure to conduct all required coal/petroleum coke fuel sampling, incorrect sulfur dioxide removal calculations, operational violations for many facility wet scrubbers and particulate filters, and missed monitoring of some emission sources.
In addition to paying the civil penalty and correcting the violations, the company will spend $87,000 to purchase and retire sulfur dioxide allowances under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Acid Rain program, permanently preventing emissions of hundreds of tons of sulfur dioxide from other U.S. facilities.
UTAC will also spend at least $180,000 for equipment to control dust on company roads and other particulate emissions. The agreement also requires the company to install continuous emission monitoring systems for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide for the three facility pellet furnace stacks. According to the company, these monitoring systems may cost $375,000.
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, call Bob Beresford, MPCA compliance coordinator, at 218-302-6600 or 1-800-657-3864.