ST. PAUL — Water Gremlin is no longer required to have monthly third-party monitoring for lead contamination at its White Bear Township plant.

District Court Judge Leonardo Castro amended his Nov. 22, 2019, court order last Friday to allow the White Bear Township company to discontinue regular monitoring by Wenck Associates, now part of Stantec Consulting Services. 

The judge still requires quarterly spot-checking by Wenck through the end of 2021 with reports submitted to the court around June 30, Sept. 30 and Dec. 31. 

Judge Castro presided over the lawsuit brought in 2019 by plaintiffs Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Nancy Leppink and Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. The state commissioners made a joint court filing after determining that efforts by Water Gremlin to control worker exposure to lead dust and lead contamination in the plant were unsuccessful. 

In its last report to the court May 28, Wenck’s industrial hygienist wrote that Water Gremlin maintains an environmental health and safety staff and has invested in addressing occupational lead hazards. Therefore, the third party “believes that its full-time presence at Water Gremlin is no longer needed to ensure compliance with the Order.”

The latest report included lead sample results from the lunchroom, locker rooms and other non-production areas, noting that overall, housekeeping practices and activities have been effective in reducing lead levels. The transition area monitoring station also improved again from the last round of sampling, according to the report, and revised bootie procedures in the transition zone appeared to be effective. “Lead hygiene compliance rates are virtually 100% for all lead hygiene-related behaviors observed,” the report stated. 

Water Gremlin conducted lead blood testing for employees in May; those results are being compiled.

Residential testing and cleanup as ordered by the judge have not yet begun.

The Japanese-owned company is the leading supplier of lead battery terminals in North America. 

— Debra Neutkens

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