According to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) enforcement investigation, Abbott Northwestern Hospital started construction at its Minneapolis campus in early 2022 without first having appropriate permits in place. The investigation also confirmed that Abbott Northwestern certified in writing that construction had not started when, in fact, it had.
Prior to beginning construction to update its aging utility plant, the hospital was required to secure a major amendment to its existing air emissions permit. At the time construction began in early 2022, the MPCA had received Abbott Northwestern’s application and supplemental information, but had not issued the permit amendment. Major air permit amendments must be issued to a regulated party before any new construction and equipment installation can begin.
In addition to paying the $50,000 civil penalty, Abbott Northwestern must submit an updated and complete permit application, and have it approved and issued by the MPCA.
MPCA rules and regulations are designed to protect human health and the environment by limiting pollution emissions and discharges from facilities. When companies do not fully comply with regulatory requirements, the resulting pollution can be harmful to people and the environment.
When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violations affected or could have affected the environment, and whether they were first-time or repeat violations. The agency also attempts to recover the economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.