Lack of permits a foul for sporting goods manufacturer

Contact: Cathy Rofshus, 507-206-2608

Rochester, Minn. — A sporting goods manufacturer in Caledonia in southeast Minnesota is working to secure the proper air emissions permit after the company self-disclosed that it had been operating without one. Under an agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. Inc. must also establish recordkeeping for its air emissions and pay a $78,000 penalty to the state.

Rawlings Sports develops and produces composite softball, fast pitch and baseball bats, hockey equipment and helmets in Caledonia in Houston County. It started business in 1999 and added or replaced paint booths in 2001, 2006, 2007 and 2012, but failed to obtain air emissions permits from the MPCA.

Federal and state law requires permits to ensure controls are in place to protect air quality for human and environmental health. Paint booths can produce:

  • Volatile organic compounds — through a chemical reaction, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides can create ozone, or smog, which can harm human health.
  • Particulate matter — particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Particles can be suspended in the air for long periods of time.
  • Hazardous air pollutants — defined by a list of chemicals that are known or suspected of causing cancer or other serious health effects.

Permits also require air monitoring to show that facilities are complying with their permit’s emission limits.

The penalty and conditions are part of a stipulation agreement between Rawlings Sports and the MPCA. This type of agreement is one of the tools the agency uses to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it was a first-time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

To learn more about air quality, visit the MPCA's Air webpage.