As we look into the new year, the actions we remain focused on are are centered around three key areas.
- understanding what happened to us,
- ensuring we are protected for the future and
- demanding accountability and change.
If you’re reading about this for the first time – or simply want a refresher on what all of this is about – check out this “Reporters Notebook” from Jennifer Mayerle – or look at the various resources on our site.
We have been very transparent in our work over the past 18 months and feel comfortable providing our strategic blueprint for public viewing, including viewing by those who may be working towards a different objective. With that – here is our focus for 2021.
1) DEMANDING ACCOUNTABILITY AND CHANGE
* Monitoring the settlement negotiations between the MPCA and Water Gremlin for the additional violations that happened after the March 2019 Stipulation Agreement.
* Monitoring progress on the Officer of the Legislature Auditor (OLA) work.
NCCG and Senator Chamberlain submitted requests of the OLA to investigate the Water Gremlin situation in September of 2019.
2) ENSURING WE ARE PROTECTED FOR THE FUTURE
* Advocating for the major permit to get underway.
Water Gremlin has been operating off the Stipulation Agreement for almost two years – way longer than intended, based on conversations with various regulatory representatives. The major permit is need for many reasons – here are three.
A) to take a holistic view of the Water Gremlin operation
B) to take into consideration the new health based values for t-DCE which are significantly less than what they are operating under today and
C)) to set a standard for operation that ensures compliance and safety.
* Monitoring progress on the current minor permit application.
While we are hopeful for the new process that is being considered, based on the past history of Water Gremlin, we are watchful about their ability to handle chemicals in a manner that is safe and protects human and environmental health.
We are also concerned about the addition of particulate matter into our community. Particulate matter is an emerging pollution concern and is documented to cause harm, especially if not managed carefully.
NCCG and several other community members submitted comments to the request by Water Gremlin to begin a new UV coating process and we are expecting updates on the status of the permit any day.
* Continuing to demand future permits for Water Gremlin include strict, in-person oversight as well as consequence for failure to follow their permit
* Monitoring the implementation of the TCE ban bill across the state – to help other communities avoid what so many others, including White Bear, have been exposed to.
* Working with third-party groups (legal, citizen advocacy, environmental and other) to learn about technical considerations and how to navigate complicated government infrastructure.
*Continuing to meet with MPCA, MDH and local, county and state elected officials on a regular basis to help ensure everyone is informed.
3) UNDERSTANDING WHAT HAPPENED TO US
* Continuing to be involved with the site remediation work being managed by the MPCA.
We have seen the preliminary report for the 3rd round and the final report will be published soon. There will be a 4th round of testing done to the Water Gremlin site.
* Advocating for money from fines to come back to the community harmed so that the community can address core concerns about health impact.
Our success to-date has been due to the efforts of dozens of actively engaged citizens who are all working together to ensure that our voice is heard and that our community is protected from harm. Because of the communities efforts, the Water Gremlin issue will not be swept under the rug and it will not be business as usual.