Monitoring lead exposure in environment

The ancient Romans were aware that lead could cause serious health problems, even madness and death. By the 20th century, the U.S. had emerged as the world’s leading producer and consumer of refined lead. The United States was, by 1980, consuming about 1.3 million tons of lead per year. This number translates into a usage rate of 5,221 grams of lead per American per annum, nearly 10 times greater than that of the ancient Romans. 

Okabe Holding USA Inc. acquired all the shares of Water Gremlin Company in April 2005, at which time new management was installed (per company history records online).

White Bear Press (WBP) article dated April 26, 2016 details a Ramsey County court case against Water Gremlin upper management, re: “The White Bear Township company has filed suit against its former employees, alleging theft of intellectual property, misappropriation of corporate funds, breach of fiduciary duties and unjust enrichment.”

Outcome of same court case: WBP article, July 18, 2018: “Water Gremlin Company announced July 13 that an order granting judgment was issued by Judge Shawn M. Bartsh of Minnesota’s Second Judicial District Court on July 6, 2018, in regards to the company’s lawsuit against its former president, Robert W. Neal. 

“The ruling, which is stayed for 30 days pursuant to Rule 125, will award Water Gremlin $5,776,502 in damages. In addition, Neal’s alleged counterclaims have been dismissed.”

In my humble opinion, this type of lawlessness exhibited by upper management should elicit an investigation by someone ... especially given the company’s product: Lead!

On the basis of all that is known about the history of lead and its adverse effects on human health, it is impossible to accept that any and all industries where humans are exposed to lead in any medium are not regularly monitored by an educated inspector.  

Self-monitoring is comparable to total anarchy ... a kid in a candy shop would probably have better results given the ethics divulged in this court case.

Jan Carlson

White Bear Lake


System broken that regulates polluters

I have lived less than 1-1/2 miles from Water Gremlin for 26 years and Water Gremlin continues to prove to be a bad neighbor. First, they were found to have been poisoning the community with the toxic chemical TCE for more than 17 years. Water Gremlin’s permitted emissions over the 17-year period was 170 tons (10 tons per year). Their actual emissions during those 17 years was 910 tons. They were subsequently unable to contain the more “safe” (undertested) alternative, tDCE, which has been discovered as vapor intrusion underneath the building, leading to shutdown of those operations. 

In October, at least 12 children of Water Gremlin employees were found with elevated blood lead levels. Inadequate supervisory oversight resulted in some employees bringing lead into their homes on their shoes and clothing. There is no safe level of lead in the blood, particularly for developing children, and can cause lasting impacts on cognition.

On Nov. 5, an MPCA Administrative Order stated Water Gremlin improperly managed hazardous waste inside and outside of the property, resulting in polluted groundwaters. Hazardous chemicals were found uncontrolled and unmarked in areas where employees freely walked and on concrete floors with cracks, including more than 300 pounds of waste contaminated with TCE spilled onto the floor over 15 years and lead-contaminated used oil dripping onto pavement outside of the building in the path of a stormwater pond and wetland.

State agencies have limitations in their ability to curtail businesses, even when their actions are harmful to employees and the community. We need legislation to address this breakdown in the system, where people’s health and well-being is the priority, and where businesses that are repeat offenders and continue to break laws and cause harm can be permanently shut down.

Andrea West

White Bear Lake

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