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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL)

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Water Gremlin Update - August 16, 2019

Friday, August 16, 2019

Dear neighbors,

Yesterday, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced that TCE and other toxic chemicals were found on the site of the Water Gremlin manufacturing plant. TCE was found in groundwater and vapors beneath the plant. DCE – the chemical that Water Gremlin began using a few months ago as a replacement for TCE – was also detected in vapors underneath the building, and lead was discovered in soil and surface water.

This level of pollution is completely unacceptable, particularly considering Water Gremlin’s history and residential location. The company must be held accountable for continuing to emit dangerous chemicals and betraying our communities’ trust. I’m committed to working with other local officials to protect residents and ensure that Water Gremlin stops releasing these toxic chemicals into our community and cleans up the contaminated areas.

Yesterday morning, I urged Water Gremlin to comply with the MPCA’s request to shut down until it’s proven that further exposure can be prevented. I encouraged the MPCA to take action immediately if Water Gremlin refuses to shut down voluntarily and urged the agency to test nearby water and soil. Residents deserve to know what toxic chemicals they may be exposed to in their homes and yards. You can read the statement I issued with Rep. Becker-Finn and Rep. Wazlawik here.

It’s clearer now than ever that we need to ban TCE in Minnesota. Companies shouldn’t be permitted to endanger workers and residents with dangerous chemicals that can increase risks for cancer and other serious health issues. I’ll keep fighting to get TCE and other toxic chemicals out of our communities.

This situation also indicates that we need a stronger regulatory process to protect our environment and the health and well-being of Minnesotans. Currently, the MPCA doesn’t have the authority to conduct reviews or investigations without an invitation. That means that they rely on companies to self-report any issues. While most businesses aren’t polluting our environment and promptly inform the MPCA about any concerns, it’s clear that there are bad actors who are taking advantage of the trust that’s been placed in them. I’d like to explore expanding the MPCA’s authority because I believe it would help identify threats more quickly. We need to make sure that companies are being responsible and that they’re held accountable for the consequences of their actions.

More information is available at https://pca.state.mn.us/air/water-gremlin. Several media outlets are tracking this situation. The latest coverage is available here, here, and here.

If you have any questions or concerns that you’d like to address with MPCA staff, please call 651-757-2998 or email water.gremlin.mpca@state.mn.us. If you have health-related questions, you can contact the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-4897 or health.hazard@state.mn.us.

I’m closely monitoring this situation, and I’ll continue to provide updates as I receive more information. Please let me know if you have additional questions. 

Sincerely,

Peter Fischer
State Representative

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