3M, American Crystal Sugar, among 90 compliance and enforcement cases at MPCA

Times Report
Crookston Times

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) closed 90 enforcement cases for air quality, waste, stormwater, and wastewater violations in the first half of 2021. Environmental enforcement investigations often take several months, in some cases more than a year, to complete the investigation and issue final enforcement documents to regulated parties. Penalties are calculated using several factors, including harm done to the environment, the economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws, or how responsive and cooperative a regulated party was in correcting problems.

Imposing monetary penalties is only part of the MPCA’s enforcement process. Agency staff continue to provide assistance, support, and information on the steps and tools necessary to bring any company, individual, or local government back into compliance.

Enforcement cases with net penalty amounts of $5,000 or more from January 2021 to June 2021

3M - Cottage Grove - $80,000 - Hazardous waste — Failed to properly store hazardous waste containers; allowed open container of hydrofluoric acid, an extremely toxic compound, to spread vapors in the building. Stored another 901 containers of hydrofluoric acid, some with bulging barrel lids, throughout the facility. Didn’t report unpermitted air pollution with the potential to endanger human health.

Northstar Materials Inc. dab Knife River Materials - Bemidji - $17,525 - Industrial wastewater — Discharged sediment-laden mine pit water to surface waters, causing nuisance conditions; failed to report the problem as required and recover the sediment that left the site.

American Crystal Sugar Company - Moorhead - $9,000 - Industrial wastewater — Did not properly clean and maintain seven sugar-beet piling sites, allowing untreated runoff to enter waters of the state.

American Crystal Sugar Company - Crookston - $6,839 - Industrial wastewater — Allowed several unauthorized releases of wastewater, and failed to properly maintain equipment to ensure efficient operation.

More details on all 90 cases completed during the first half of 2021 can be found on the MPCA’s Compliance and Enforcement web page.