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Minneapolis | Smith Foundry

Smith Foundry, located in the East Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, produces iron castings for use with industrial machinery and the manufacturing of transportation equipment. The facility operates under an MPCA air permit that is up for renewal. In August 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued Smith Foundry a notice of violation for allegedly releasing air pollution at levels that exceed regulations. 

The MPCA is working with local, state, and federal partners to monitor pollution from Smith Foundry and protect the health and well-being of East Phillips residents. 

Our role

The MPCA is working to revise Smith Foundry’s air permit and awaits its updated air permit application and a required cumulative levels and effects analysis. 

On December 8, 2023, the MPCA sent a letter to Smith Foundry’s leadership requesting the company:

  • Develop and submit a timeline for a plan to test, monitor, and report its air emissions by mid-April 2024. The plan must include an analysis of all options for measuring and monitoring emissions, including continuous monitoring. 
  • Submit an assessment of raw materials, including lead, used by the facility since the current owners, Zynik Capital, purchased the foundry in December 2022.

The company met a December 20, 2023, deadline for both requirements. Read the company's response.

Stack testing

The U.S. EPA required Smith Foundry to complete air emissions monitoring in the facility’s stack as part of the agency’s ongoing investigation. A third party conducted the stack test in December 2023. The stack test results are a key component in verifying any lead emissions and the amount of particulate matter coming directly from several of the operations at the Smith Foundry facility. 

The MPCA and EPA analyzed the stack test results in January 2024 and verified that Smith Foundry is not emitting more particulate matter than allowed by its permit at those operations. The test detected low amounts of lead coming from the facility. These results are now part of the EPA's continuing investigation at Smith Foundry.
 

Smith Foundry stack test results
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See the results

The Smith Foundry stack test results are now available on the facility's page on What's in My Neighborhood.

The data from that stack test represent a snapshot of Smith Foundry’s emissions, gathered over three days in December 2023. MPCA and EPA staff will factor in the facility’s production amounts as part of an analysis of the test results to calculate the total emissions from the facility throughout the year. MPCA and EPA staff can then compare that amount to established emission limits for Smith Foundry. 

Stack testing is an important part of air permitting and compliance because it

  • Provides actual measured levels of emissions from the facility.
  • Describes the physical, chemical, or aesthetic properties of the emissions.
  • Measures the performance of emission-control equipment.

Under typical circumstances, when facilities are required to conduct stack testing, the MPCA considers the results along with the emission limits included in the facility’s permit. If the MPCA finds the facility in compliance with the terms of its permit, the MPCA sends a notice of compliance to the facility, summarizing the results of the stack test and setting operating limits if necessary.  

If the facility fails a stack test, the MPCA’s main priority is to get the facility into compliance. MPCA staff will then determine if the facility can identify causes and how to correct problems and will look for proactive efforts to reduce emissions until the facility can conduct and pass a retest. Minnesota rules allow 30 days from receipt of a notice of noncompliance to correct problems. If necessary, the MPCA will initiate enforcement proceedings against the facility. 

Submit your questions and comments

The MPCA welcomes questions and concerns from the community about this project and our work in the East Phillips neighborhood. Please email smith.foundry@state.mn.us and the MPCA will provide a prompt response. Please check back to this page for updates and sign up to receive email updates below.

Next steps and timeline

May-October 2024: Review environmental analysis and develop permit

  • Receive complete application.
  • Public feedback on the draft cumulative levels and effects analysis.
  • Tribal engagement.
  • Set pollution limits and requirements for monitoring, testing, and reporting.
  • Three community meetings.

October-December 2024: Review draft permit and decision

  • Tribal and company review of air permit.
  • Public notice of air permit.
  • Two community meetings.
  • Address air permit comments.
  • Air permit decision and community meeting.
Graphic timeline for Smith Foundry air permit process.

Location

Map showing location of Smith Foundry in Minneapolis, just east of Hiawatha Ave and north of East Lake Street.
Location of the Smith Foundry.

Smith Foundry, located at 1855 E. 28th St. in the East Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis, is in an area of concern for environmental justice that consists of mixed residential, commercial, and industrial properties. 

Air permitting in South Minneapolis is subject to a law passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2008 that requires extra studies called cumulative levels and effects analyses for any new or reissued air permits in this area of South Minneapolis. Bituminous Roadways, an asphalt plant located next door to Smith Foundry, has recently provided new emissions data that will factor into the foundry’s cumulative levels and effects analysis.

More information

Community dialogue

The MPCA is committed to establishing an ongoing dialogue with the East Phillips community about our agency’s work in the neighborhood. We cannot fulfill our commitment to environmental justice nor our mission to protect and improve the environment and human health without including the community’s voices and perspectives. Our agency is working with community leaders to identify opportunities for regular conversations about the Smith Foundry facility and air quality in East Phillips as we move forward.

The MPCA held community conversations on November 27, December 1, and February 7 to hear residents’ concerns and answer questions about the foundry’s existing air permit. The December 1 meeting was held online and recorded.

16221: GovDelivery: Smith Foundry updates MNPCA_543
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Stay connected

Sign up to receive information about Smith Foundry and air quality in the East Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis.

Permit

MPCA leaders have asked Smith Foundry to submit a timely revised permit application and commit to a public schedule. See above for more details about the proposed permit schedule in 2024. 

Inspections and complaints

2023

  • May: U.S. EPA inspected Smith Foundry and discovered potential Clean Air Act violations from the foundry’s operations.
  • August: The EPA issued a notice of violations to Smith Foundry. MPCA continues to work closely with the federal agency on its investigation.
  • November: The MPCA completed an unannounced inspection and found all pollution control equipment operating. The agency shared additional information gathered with the EPA to include in the federal investigation. 

Earlier activities

  • July 2006: Smith Foundry paid a $13,871 penalty for air quality and air permit violations resulting from a complaint of "black sand" surrounding the foundry. An MPCA investigation determined that the emissions resulted from the failure of particulate-trapping equipment called a baghouse. A subsequent MPCA inspection discovered overdue performance testing of equipment and use of other equipment not covered by the company's air permit. The foundry corrected the violations and submitted a detailed plan to avoid similar violations. 
  • December 2018: The MPCA completed a full inspection of Smith Foundry and found no violations.
  • From 2018 to 2023. The MPCA received 13 complaints about the foundry. Ten were odor-related and referred to the City of Minneapolis, which oversees odor complaints. Two complaints were stormwater-related and addressed by Smith Foundry. The MPCA addressed a complaint regarding black smoke during the November 6, 2023, inspection.

Air monitoring

Community air sensors currently gather data on air quality near Smith Foundry, including two within two blocks of the facility. The data from those sensors can vary based on weather and other factors but show no significant and long-term emissions concerns.

16221: Community air sensor data
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Community air sensors

Sensors currently gather data on air quality near Smith Foundry. 

The MPCA has installed two additional regulatory air monitors near Smith Foundry.  

Locations of air quality sensors near Smith Foundry: Cedar and E 27th St, Cedar and E 29th St, 14th Ave S and E 26th St, 24th Ave S and E Franklin, 31st Ave S and E 25th St, and 23rd Ave S and E 32nd St. Regulatory monitors are near E 28th St and 20th Ave S, 11th Ave S and E 27th St, and 15th Ave S and E 18th St.

 

Contact

Questions or concerns