Water Gremlin to restart VOC operations under certain conditions

Jeanne Giernet, 651-757-2390

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today issued a new administrative order to Water Gremlin that allows the restart of its volatile organic compounds (VOCs) coating operations under certain conditions. The administrative order is a result of numerous unannounced inspections and extensive soil, soil vapor sampling at the company’s facility, and includes plans to prevent further contamination.

The conditions under which Water Gremlin can operate its coating operations include:

Phased-in restart and new testing. To ensure that the company’s VOC coating equipment is operating as required, the company must restart the process in phases. Water Gremlin’s VOC coaters have been divided into seven groups. The company will restart one group at a time, with 12 hours in between for indoor air and sub-slab sampling. If sampling finds a group of coaters is emitting tDCE beneath the sub-slab, Water Gremlin is required to cease the operation of those coaters until additional corrective actions are approved by the MPCA.

Continued air monitoring and new air modeling. Water Gremlin is required to continue to pay a consulting firm to conduct VOC ambient monitoring every three days. The lab that analyzes the monitoring result sends them directly to the MPCA. Water Gremlin must also submit any requested emissions data within 30 days of resuming VOC operations. As part of the permitting process, the MPCA will conduct additional air modeling to ensure Water Gremlin is complying with federal, state, and local laws.

90 tons per year limit on VOC emissions. Water Gremlin is required to limit its VOC emissions to 90 tons per year as a 365-day rolling sum.

See the full list of findings and requirements in the January 17, 2020 administrative order.

In addition to the administrative order, air monitoring for VOCs — including tDCE and TCE — will continue at and near Water Gremlin’s facility in White Bear Township. As required in the March 2019 stipulation agreement, Water Gremlin must submit to air sampling at five locations around the edge of its property. These five monitors will continue to sample for VOCs, including tDCE and TCE. Air samples are collected for one 24-hour period every three days and posted on the MPCA website.

The MPCA added four additional monitors in September 2019. Two monitors near the facility continue to sample airborne lead. Monitors at Columbia Park and Birch Lake Elementary School are sampling for VOCs. Those monitors will continue to operate for the foreseeable future.

Later this month, Water Gremlin is expected to submit a new air quality permit application to the MPCA. The agency anticipates releasing a draft permit for public comment by early summer 2020.

Water Gremlin still has an administrative order in place requiring the company to make specific changes to the way it manages hazardous waste at its White Bear Township facility. The MPCA ordered the new requirements in November 2019 after an agency investigation determined that company actions risked the release of hazardous waste at its White Bear Township facility. This administrative order will remain in place until Water Gremlin has satisfactorily met the requirements. Penalties will be assessed after the company comes into compliance.

Minnesota OSHA continues its ongoing investigation regarding Water Gremlin's employees, including addressing employee exposure to lead and the use of personal protective equipment at their worksite. The agency will determine if there are any needed citations and continue its work with Water Gremlin to put in place permanent solutions, including, in accordance with a court order, new changing areas and shower facilities, to ensure employees are free of lead when they leave the facility.