The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) have completed an investigation into community exposures to an industrial solvent called trichloroethylene (TCE) used by Water Gremlin, a manufacturer in White Bear Township.
The investigation showed the company had been emitting significantly more TCE than allowed by its permit. As a result, neighborhoods near the facility were exposed to TCE levels above health benchmarks.
The MPCA announced on March 1, 2019, that the violations of the facility’s air permit that led to the exposures will cost the company more than $7 million. Under the terms of the agreement, Water Gremlin restarted full operations using an alternative product called Fluo Solv in place of TCE.
The agreement also requires the company to:
- Conduct air monitoring on all four sides of the property.
- Investigate for the presence of TCE contamination in soils and groundwater within the property boundary and report its findings to the MPCA.
- Provide daily operational and compliance data to the MPCA.
- Pay a penalty with a combined value of more than $7 million, including spending $1.5 million on two projects that will benefit human health and the environment.
Water Gremlin: trichloroethylene (TCE) area of concern provides detail to the community on health concerns associated with TCE emissions at this site.
Water Gremlin, Inc. at 4400 Otter Lake Road in White Bear Township, makes fishing sinkers and battery terminal posts. The company used TCE to finish metal parts. In January 2019, the MPCA learned that the facility was releasing much more TCE into the air than allowed by its air quality permit. The MPCA requested the company to shut down the TCE production line on January 14, 2019, which they did. Meanwhile the MPCA began the investigation that resulted in the penalty agreement. Computer modeling during the investigation showed that areas up to 1.5 miles from the facility were exposed to TCE levels above health benchmarks developed by the MDH.