According to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) enforcement investigation, USG Interiors LLC exceeded nitrogen oxide emissions by 10% above permit limits for nearly 50 days during the summer of 2022. The violations were confirmed following a failed stack test of equipment that dries materials to be formed into ceiling tiles at the company’s facility in Cloquet, Minn.
An MPCA staff inspection in May 2023 also confirmed other violations including:
- Failing to consistently apply chloride to unpaved road surfaces at the facility. Chloride application is required by the 15th day of each month between May and September to suppress dust and maintain control of ambient particulate matter.
- Failing to submit required notifications of new equipment construction and initial startups on time. Twelve such notifications were submitted to the MPCA between 30 and 123 days late.
In addition to paying the $18,949 civil penalty, USG Interiors has completed a series of corrective actions including:
- Retesting the drying equipment to confirm emissions compliance.
- Submitting a plan to ensure timely application of chloride according to permit requirements.
- Submitting a plan to ensure all future notifications are on time.
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 considers 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.