Water Gremlin corrects violations, charged penalty

ST. PAUL — Water Gremlin and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) have signed a stipulation agreement that resolves alleged hazardous waste and stormwater issues identified during previous inspections.

The agreement, signed April 13 by company President Scott Schulz and MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop, “continues to hold the company accountable for serious violations that put the environment and health of its workers and area residents at risk,” read a statement from Darin Broton, MPCA’s director of communications. “The enforcement agreement recognizes that Water Gremlin failed to take reasonable steps to prevent pollutants and hazardous waste from discharging into the environment.”

The White Bear Township company is required to implement rigorous training and safeguards to prevent further contamination, as well as pay a $325,000 civil penalty. Noted in the agreement is Water Gremlin’s completion of 31 corrective actions regarding its handling and management of lead, lead-contaminated hazardous waste, TCE-contaminated hazardous waste, used oil and used oil-contaminated materials.

In a press release of its own, Water Gremlin maintained it has been voluntarily cooperating with county and state authorities to make improvements in facilities and processes for its handling of hazardous waste materials. 

Since 1995, and consistent with MPCA rules, Ramsey County has provided for oversight and licensing of the company’s facilities, including inspections, the release read. The last inspection by Ramsey County in September 2019 showed no significant violations or citations but included suggestions for improvements that were fully implemented by the company. The MPCA took over inspections in the fall of 2019 and required additional improvements that have been fully satisfied.

“The results of that inspection were consistent with our history of hazardous waste compliance,” said Mary Gail Scott, environmental, health and safety director for Water Gremlin. “As a small business, guidance from professionals at Ramsey County helped supplement the company’s understanding of the numerous hazardous waste requirements.”

The agreement with the MPCA documents that all required actions have been completed by Water Gremlin. “Working through the MPCA provided us with a clearer understanding of the changes they wanted to see to improve upon our environmental program,” Scott continued. “We have implemented all of them. Water Gremlin is committed to providing a safe and environmentally sustainable operation, for our employees and the local community.”

Added MPCA’s Broton, “The agency remains focused on ensuring Water Gremlin complies with all rules and regulations, including those outlined in numerous enforcement agreements since 2019. The MPCA continues to review Water Gremlin’s permit application to ensure the company will meet stringent environmental regulations. A permitting decision and opportunities for public input are expected in early summer 2021.”

By entering into the agreement, Water Gremlin is settling a disputed matter between itself and the MPCA and does not admit that the alleged violations occurred.

The stipulation agreement is available for viewing at www.pca.state.mn.us/air/water-gremlin.

 

— Debra Neutkens

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