NCCG Statement

In Response to MPCA denying Water Gremlin an Extension on Testing Pollution Control Equipment.

July 14, 2019

The Neighborhood Concerned Citizens Group (NCCG) was pleased to hear the MCPA plans to begin holding Water Gremlin accountable to the terms of the Stipulation Agreement, signed on March 1, 2019.   As Commissioner Bishop said in the July 12, 2019 MPCA press release, waiting 75 days for pollution control equipment to be installed and operational is too long.  Especially when DCE levels from Water Gremlin far exceed the daily allowance outlined in the Stipulation Agreement and pose a risk to an already compromised community.  

While NCCG is pleased that the MPCA is beginning to enforce the Stipulation Agreement, the negotiated civil penalty of $500 per day for Water Gremlin’s failure to perform required testing is wholly inadequate to address Water Gremlin’s ongoing noncompliance. 

To Water Gremlin, a wholly owned subsidiary of multinational Okabe Co. Ltd. of Tokyo, Japan, the assessment of a $500 per day penalty is like paying a parking ticket.  It is cheaper for Water Gremlin to pay the daily penalty than to comply. 

Water Gremlin has a documented history of operating outside of compliance.  Now Water Gremlin is operating in direct violation of the terms of the Stipulation Agreement entered into with the MPCA.  

The MPCA has determined that Water Gremlin is a serial violator of environmental regulations.  As noted within the Stipulation Agreement, MPCA found that Water Gremlin violated the terms of its’ MPCA-issued air quality permit since at least 2002.  In 2018 alone, Water Gremlin emitted more than 100 tons of TCE, despite their permitted allowance of 10 tons annually.  Water Gremlin continued operations, knowing their pollution control equipment was not functioning properly. 

The MPCA and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) identified an Area of Concern around the Water Gremlin facility.  In this primarily residential area, thousands of individuals of all ages and health conditions have been exposed to the toxic emissions.  These hazardous emissions–initially TCE and now DCE, affect residents of White Bear Township, White Bear Lake and Gem Lake. 

NCCG is continuing to urge the MPCA to set and enforce a hard deadline for Water Gremlin to complete testing of DCE emissions.

Additionally, Water Gremlin should not be allowed to continue operations unless the company can demonstrate their emissions are within state standards and appropriately protective of those living nearby. 

If the MPCA’s deadline is not met, the MPCA must take immediate action by issuing an administrative order to Water Gremlin to suspend their operations. 

If the MPCA is unable to act to protect the public health and the environment, NCCG calls on Attorney General Keith Ellison to utilize his Office’s independent authority under State law to enjoin Water Gremlin’s operations and to protect the citizens of White Bear Township, White Bear Lake and Gem Lake from Water Gremlin’s toxic emissions. 

In addition, NCCG also expects that the MPCA, the Governor and local government continue to hold Water Gremlin accountable.