According to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) enforcement investigation, the Hibbing Public Utilities Commission (PUC) exceeded its permitted carbon monoxide emissions limits and submitted several emissions testing reports up to 300 days late. Some of these actions are repeat violations from previous enforcement cases against the company.
MPCA inspections confirmed that the Hibbing PUC’s wood-fired boiler exceeded carbon monoxide limits multiple times during 2021 and 2022. The emissions testing reports are intended to monitor small and very small (PM and PM10) particles from both their coal and wood-fired boilers.
In addition to paying the $17,245 civil penalty, the Hibbing PUC has completed a series of corrective actions including:
- operating their wood-fired boiler according to the permitted carbon monoxide limits and submitting a plan describing steps to be taken to ensure the boiler does not exceed permitted limits in the future.
- submitting a plan describing steps to ensure future emissions performance tests are conducted in accordance with permitted deadlines.
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.