Metropolitan Council pays $14,038 for air quality violations at south Minneapolis light-rail facility

Contact: Ralph Pribble, 651-757-2657

The Metropolitan Council’s Metro Transit paid a civil penalty of $14,308 for air quality violations at its Franklin Avenue light-rail operations and maintenance facility in south Minneapolis. The facility is located in an environmental justice area of concern, where more than 70 percent of residents live in poverty and more than a third speak a language other than English. These factors make it more likely that residents will be disproportionately affected by pollution.

The facility operates under an MPCA-issued permit that regulates air emissions of pollutants; operations at the facility include painting light-rail cars. The permit requires filters and other methods to control emissions from painting, and scheduled checks to make sure the control equipment is working properly.   

An MPCA inspection in June 2019 found that the facility didn’t:

  • Keep records of the daily filter checks that are required when the paint booth was operating
  • Document required performance checks of control equipment components
  • Have a required plan for corrective action when there were problems with control equipment

In addition to the civil penalty, Metro Transit agreed to take corrective action to prevent further emissions violations, including ensuring all filters are inspected daily, and periodically during painting operations, and updating its operations and maintenance plan for painting operations.

MPCA 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 the environment, whether they were first-time or repeat violations, and how promptly the violations were reported to authorities. The agency also attempts to recover the economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

Visit the MPCA web site for more information on how the MPCA works to ensure environmental justice.