MPCA orders Water Gremlin to temporarily shut down

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Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

MPCA orders Water Gremlin to temporarily shut down

Yesterday evening, the MPCA issued an administrative order against Water Gremlin that will require the company to temporarily shut down its solvent-based coating operations.

Since learning in January 2019 that Water Gremlin failed to report accurate emission data for more than 15 years, the MPCA has sought greater accountability from the company for its current and past behavior. Most recently, the MPCA learned that Water Gremlin knew as of June 20, 2019 that it was releasing DCE into the soil vapor beneath its plant and possibly into the adjacent areas. The company failed to immediately report this release or take corrective actions. The company finally reported this information to the MPCA on July 30, 2019. On August 14, the MPCA asked Water Gremlin to temporarily halt is coating operations that use FluoSolv, a trans-1,2-dichloroethylene (tDCE)-based solvent, until the company took appropriate corrective actions to prevent further release of the chemical into the soil vapor. This was the fastest way to get the company to stop releasing DCE and start corrective measures.

While the company offered to pause its operations from August 23, 2019 – August 28, 2019 until it could mitigate the current contamination of tDCE, Water Gremlin does not have a plan to stop future tDCE contamination of the soil vapor. The MPCA has been clear: Water Gremlin needs to mitigate current contamination and prevent further contamination.

As a result of the company’s lack of action, the MPCA issued an administrative order on August 22, 2019 against Water Gremlin that will require the company to temporarily shut down its coating operations. Under the administrative order, the company may not resume coating operations until it has taken corrective action to address the release of tDCE into the soil vapor beneath the Water Gremlin facility. These corrective actions must be approved by MPCA, completed, and determined to be effective before coating operations may resume. A copy of the administrative order is available on MPCA's website.

Water Gremlin must also continue the investigation of the soil, groundwater, and soil vapor to determine the extent and magnitude of the contamination. The MPCA has also required Water Gremlin to install a vapor mitigation system to address the contaminated soil vapor that is located underneath Water Gremlin’s building.

MPCA also continues to closely monitor air emissions in and around the Water Gremlin facility. The agency continues to hold the company accountable to the emission limits set forth in the March 2019 stipulation agreement.

Community Meeting

As a reminder, the MPCA is hosting a community meeting next Tuesday, August 27 at Central Middle School (4857 Bloom Avenue, White Bear Lake) from 7:00 - 9:00 pm. The purpose of the meeting is to present a status update on the situation at Water Gremlin, including the results of recent soil, groundwater, and soil vapor investigation and the results of testing on the company’s air pollution control equipment.