Revised PolyMet permits sent to EPA
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sent revised PolyMet air and water quality permits to the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday.
While not a final decision of the PCA, it represents progress for the company’s proposed copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes.
In a news release, the agency cited changes it made to the permits in response to public comments.
"The air and water pollution permits submitted to EPA today are based on a financially impossible version of the PolyMet proposal," said Lee in the press release.
"PolyMet’s own financial study shows that PolyMet’s real plan is to build a mega-mine that mines four times as fast.
Aaron Klemz, the director of public engagement for the center said PolyMet’s new plan, which was submitted in March "changed the way they would do mining operations."
This is the penultimate step before a final decision on the permits will be made.
The air and water permits are two of more than 20 that PolyMet needs before it can begin construction.
One of those includes a wetlands replacement permit, a water appropriations permit, and permit to mine from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which is still pending.
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3M pays $850 million to settle drinking water contamination lawsuit
Legal dispute between Minnesota and 3M over perfluorinated compounds ends as company agrees to pay remediation costs US manufacturing giant 3M has agreed to pay $850 million (£610 million) to the state of Minnesota to settle a lawsuit accusing the company of contaminating groundwater with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).
The settlement, which came on 20 February when the trial was set to kick-off, will see the money will go to projects to improve aquatic habitats in the state’s east, which was hit hardest by the contamination.
Finalised on the courthouse steps, the agreement came after six weeks of negotiations.
The 3M grant, which will be administered by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, will also finance the continued delivery of water to residents.
The company has agreed to pay for bottled water and in-home water filtration systems for the owners of private wells contaminated by PFCs, for at least the next five years.
‘We are proud of our record of environmental stewardship, and while we do not believe there is a PFC-related public health issue, 3M will work with the state on these important projects,’ said John Banovetz, the company’s chief technology officer and senior vice president of research and development.
US Environmental Protection Agency research has found that PFCs have the potential to bioaccumulate in wildlife.
The agency also points to animal studies that link these compounds to developmental, reproductive and systemic effects.
However, in the days leading up to the trial, the Minnesota Department of Health released a report that concluded that pollution from the 3M sites did not lead to any increase in cancer, low birth-weight babies or premature births.
The trial is scheduled for March 2019.
Column: Embrace ‘smart salting’ to save lakes and water sources from contamination
Because it’s wreaking havoc on our natural environment.
That means only 22 percent of the salt we use is actually doing what it’s applied to do.
And we can see the results of this already – the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reports that groundwater in Minnesota’s urban areas exceeds the state standard for chloride (salt) contamination.
Additionally, they’ve found that 39 bodies of water in the Twin Cities, including Minnehaha Creek, test above the state standard for chloride.
This means that if your groundwater becomes contaminated with chloride, the water from your tap may start to taste a little salty (and removing salt from water is prohibitively costly on a large scale).
Too much salt also can impact your favorite things to do in and around water.
Luckily, this issue has been gaining a lot more attention in the past several years and many public and private organizations are educating individuals and training professionals on smart salting techniques and alternatives.
For the past 16 years a road salt symposium has been hosted each winter in the Twin Cities to share research, innovative technologies and trainings for winter maintenance professionals and concerned citizens.
Another proposed solution we are closely watching is limited liability legislation for winter maintenance contractors who are voluntarily certified in smart salting techniques.
We are energized by the progress made to decrease salt pollution in Minnesota, and are proud to be a part of the solution.
Column: Embrace ‘smart salting’ to save lakes and water sources from contamination
The use of road salt has been getting a lot of airtime these past few months. Why? Because it’s wreaking havoc on our natural environment. While salt can control ice and keep us safe during our winter travels, it doesn’t tend to stay where we put it. A University of Minnesota study found that about 78 percent of road salt applied in the Twin Cities winds up in either our groundwater supply or our local lakes, streams, and rivers. That means only 22 percent of the salt we use is actually doing what it’s applied to do. And we can see the results of this already – the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reports that groundwater in Minnesota’s urban areas exceeds the state standard for chloride (salt) contamination. Additionally, they’ve found that 39 bodies of water in the Twin Cities, including Minnehaha Creek, test above the state standard for chloride. What’s the big deal? Well, one teaspoon of salt permanently pollutes five gallons of water. This means that if your groundwater becomes contaminated with chloride, the water from your tap may start to taste a little salty (and removing salt from water is prohibitively costly on a large scale). Too much salt also can impact your favorite things to do in and around water. Chloride is toxic for…
Governor wants to know … how can water quality be improved?
He’s seen how changes in farming practices can have a big impact on the creek’s health.
"It’s helping demonstrate that the farmers who are doing those practices are making a difference, and I think that’s positive to encourage that," Gossman said.
Mark Dayton hosts a town hall in Rochester focused on how to improve the region’s water quality by 25 percent by 2025.
In Southeast Minnesota, pollution due to the runoff of phosphorus and sediment remains a major challenge.
Terry Lee, Olmsted County’s water resources manager, said nitrate pollution is a huge problem.
An estimated 900 people in Olmsted County are drinking from water sources that don’t meet federal safe drinking standards for nitrate concentration, according to Lee.
In Southeast Minnesota, Lee said, most of the nitrates found in drinking water come from fertilizer use.
On it, the county grows corn and soybeans using a no-till method.
He also has started using these techniques on his own farm west of Rochester.
At this point, he estimates only 5 percent to 10 percent of the area’s farmers practice no-till farming.
MPCA slams U.S. Steel over pattern of delay
Court asked to order pollution agreement compliance REGIONAL—The state’s Pollution Control Agency has delivered a punishing indictment of U.S. Steel in a response and counterclaim to a lawsuit filed against the agency by the company in February.
It was one of several such agreements, known as a Schedule of Compliance, or SOC, that company officials signed beginning in 2001, but rarely followed according to the PCA.
• In 2003, the company, in an amended SOC, agreed to focus its study on a so-called “packed-bed bioreactor,” as a means of reducing sulfate levels in tailings basin water, but the company proposal failed to achieve its objective.
The company did submit an application, but at the same time proposed new ideas, including pumping back discharges to the Sand River and further study of the link between sulfate discharge and the disappearance of wild rice in some downstream waters.
The current concentration of sulfate in the tailings basin water ranges from 850 to 1100 mg/l.
• In 2011, the parties entered into a new SOC, under which U.S. Steel agreed to replace their wet scrubbers with a dry technology.
In defending that decision from environmental critics, DNR officials cited U.S. Steel’s 2011 agreement with the PCA to install dry emissions technology and collect seepage entering the Dark River.
Yet, despite having relied on its commitments in the 2011 agreement to obtain its mine expansion permit, U.S. Steel did not comply with its promise to replace the wet scrubbers with dry controls according to the PCA, nor has the company installed seepage collection at the Dark River outlet.
MCEA legal director Kevin Reuther said U.S. Steel’s response was vindication of the environmental group’s position in its lawsuit with the DNR.
Meanwhile, last November, the MCEA and two other environmental groups filed suit against the PCA, alleging the company has failed in its legal obligation to control pollution from the Minntac tailings basin.