Owner of former SurTec plating business in Eveleth pays $19,325 for hazardous waste violations

Contact: Stephen Mikkelson 218-316-3887

Martin Zuponcic, of Cook, Minn., has paid a $19,325 civil penalty to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for a series of hazardous waste violations at SurTec, Inc., a former chrome-plating business in Eveleth. Zuponcic owned SurTec until it closed in 2019.

In August 2018, the City of Eveleth’s wastewater treatment plant notified the MPCA of an unknown green liquid flowing into its facility. This was traced back to the SurTec facility. MPCA inspections confirmed that chromium was spilled inside SurTec, and an undetermined amount went down drains that lead to the treatment plant. Inspections also revealed that SurTec had been operating for more than three years without a valid hazardous waste generator license, or required operating permits.

The specific violations included failing to properly manage and dispose of hazardous wastes, and failing to notify the State Duty Officer and the MPCA of the chromium spill.

In addition to paying the civil penalty, Zuponcic provided documentation that the SurTec facility was cleaned, and remaining hazardous wastes were properly disposed of, before the business was closed.

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 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.