December 28 – All comments to the draft permit were due by August 20, 2022. At that point, Water Gremlin submitted a request for a contested case – meaning that they strong disagreed with the permit requirements. The MPCA has been reviewing that request, along with all of the other comments received and has let us know that they will be reissuing another version of the permit shortly. (Expected late Jan/early Feb.)
Click here to view all of the responses to the first permit, including the responses from NCCG and from Water Gremlin. You’ll see Water Gremlin in general feels that permit was too restrictive and too cumbersome. And, you’ll see that the community is asking to make sure that we are protected though monitoring and other ongoing reporting requirements.
Taking action to protect our White Bear area.
THE BACK STORY:
In March of 2019, the MPCA announced a stipulation agreement had been signed with Water Gremlin. As the White Bear area community began to read the agreement, we learned we had been exposed to highly excessive levels of TCE for 17 years. Check out this page on the MDH website for a Public Health Assessment summary (draft version published in Q2 2022) of what the community may have been exposed to as a result of years of highly excessive pollution at the hands of Water Gremlin.
As 2019 progressed, additional actions were taken against Water Gremlin by the MPCA, the MDH and the Dept. of Labor and Industry for poor handling of lead, for hazardous waste violations and more.
In the 4 years this has been going on, 2 administrative orders and 2 stipulation agreements have been issued. And, in August the MPCA, after almost 3.5 years of research and back and forth with Water Gremlin, issued the first version of the permit As outlined above, it is being reissued due to the number of comments and required changes.
Frankly, this website (maintained by community volunteers) hasn’t been kept as up-to-date this last year or so. But, now that there is some more progress, we’ll try to get it updated to reflect some of the more current happenings so that you can hear the community-based perspective.
OH, by the way. Out of all the bad that has been exposed by Water Gremlin’s actions (check out the OLA for a summary), there has been some good.
* Due to all of the remediation work, 1,4 Dioxane was found in Gem Lake private wells and citizens were provided with safe drinking water. Water Gremlin is not thought to be the cause of the 1,4 Dioxane, however their actions did lead to the work that found this issue.
* A joint powers agreement was signed between Ramsey County and the MPCA, enabling the two groups to work together during issues like this.
* The MPCA made changes in how they train permit engineers and now cross-train and have peer reviews as a formalized process.
* The MPCA changed how their databases ‘talk’ to each other. Different types of data were going into different places and not being shared or connected.
These are just some of the positives that have come out of all of the pain caused by decades of highly excessive pollution by Water Gremlin.
Jennifer Mayerle in “The Reporter’s Notebook” Part 1.
In less than 9 minutes, you’ll hear a quick overview of 2019. (Recorded 1/17/2020)
When is enough enough? Water Gremlin was permitted to release 10 tons of TCE per year. Over 17 years, they released more than 1000 tons into the White Bear area community. (Page 9, Stipulation Agreement)
And, regarding lead, 24 children have been found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood. The lead was “brought home” from workers.
To learn more about what happened from the NCCG community perspective, click here for a series of articles summarizing our findings and research.
Citizens are fearful about health impacts and environmental damages. The community is asking a lot of questions of the MPCA, the MDH and our local and state officials to understand.
We have health concerns for children living in the area during the 17 years of excessive pollution. And, we’re worried about the children who have attended elementary school ‘in the zone’.White Bear Area Citizen
Join us as we learn more about the Water Gremlin contamination issues.
Our goal for this site is to provide you with a resource for learning more. And, if you’d like to get involved or stay in-the-know, scroll to the end of this page to sign up for update emails. Or, join our Facebook page.
Our Strategic Focus:
Understand the Past
Water Gremlin has exposed our community to unsafe levels of TCE and possibly other pollutants since 2002 or earlier. We need to know the full scope of the incident in order to identify health needs of current and past residents, workers and students in our neighborhood.
I want to know what the real pollution was so that I can help my kids understand what they need to watch for as they move on into the next stage of their lives.White Bear Area / Whitaker Resident
Protect the Future
We are working to ensure that Water Gremlin stays in compliance with the stipulation agreement, that the community is informed if they are out of compliance and to ensure that the replacement to TCE is the best alternative – for the community and the environment.
We have been asked repeatedly by community members – Are we safe with the new chemical and pollution control equipment? What other VOCs are in the area that we don’t know about?NCCG Board Member
NCCG is working with elected and regulatory officials to ensure that there is accountability for the citizen’s “right to know” and to ensure a transparent and participatory process with ongoing citizen information and input.
Also, NCCG is working to understand what went wrong and how government, regulatory, industry and citizens can impact different outcomes for our future.
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Copyright Neighborhood Concerned Citizens Group (NCCG) 2019 – All rights reserved