February 25, 2021: The pollution control agency that forced battery terminal manufacturer Water Gremlin to shut for 72 hours had ‘significant weaknesses’ in its own operations, an auditor revealed this month.
Mistakes made by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency date back to 1995, the legislator found, when Water Gremlin first applied for an air quality permit and reported that its actual emissions of the hazardous air pollutant trichloroethylene were 23 times a federal threshold.
The MPCA failed to respond to the application, and only gave the required permission after Water Gremlin applied a second time, in 1999.
Thereafter there were many occasions in which Water Gremlin fulfilled its part according to its permits, but the MPCA did not carry out subsequent performance tests.
“Broader issues, such as the absence of state rules governing pollutants called ‘air toxics’ and the MPCA’s backlog of air quality permit applications, might also have contributed to problems with the timeliness and effectiveness of Water Gremlin’s permit,” the legislator said.
“The MPCA did not even act on Water Gremlin’s own self-reported emissions.”
“MPCA cited Water Gremlin in 2019 for longstanding hazardous waste violations, but failure to detect these problems earlier may have reflected ambiguity about agency responsibilities for monitoring and enforcing hazardous waste practices,” said the legislator’s report.
Water Gremlin CEO Kurt Gifford said the company was fully operational and offering an environmentally ‘green’ coating alternative to customers, with no assistance or help from the MPCA.
“This report shows that although Water Gremlin was self-reporting data the MPCA was not doing its duty,” Gifford said.