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3M, Cottage Grove talks hit roadblock

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news Cottage Grove, 55016
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

Cottage Grove officials said negotiations last week between the city and 3M over an agreement that would have the company foot the bill for additional air monitoring near its Cottage Grove facility hit a roadblock, with the city and company "far apart," one councilperson said, on reaching a deal.

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"We're far apart on length of time that the monitoring would be in place (and) we're far apart on the (chemicals) that would be measured," said Justin Olsen, one of two Cottage Grove City Council members at the Thursday meeting.

The two sides have been engaged in talks regarding a pact over additional emissions measurements at the plant since last month, when legislation began moving through the State Capitol that would have placed a moratorium on the issuance of new permits for the 3M corporate incinerator in Cottage Grove.

The language was introduced in response to the city's continued opposition to 3M's plan to import waste from outside the company's waste stream for incineration at its Cottage Grove hazardous waste burner. The company says the plan could save it between $1 million and $2 million in fuel oil costs per year.

3M Cottage Grove site director Vickie Batroot could not be reached for comment. 3M spokesperson Bill Nelson declined to discuss specifics of the ongoing negotiations, citing company policy. He did confirm, however, that air monitoring "is one of the points of negotiation," and that the company "remains encouraged" by the talks.

"The bigger picture is this: emissions from our incinerator operations are relatively small, and that our proposal would be almost no increase in emissions," Nelson said. "So we're willing to do the air monitoring but we think in the big picture we're confident that our emissions from the incinerator have no impact on the air quality of Cottage Grove."

Mayor Myron Bailey, also present at Thursday's meeting, said the city and company are "closer than we've been" to reaching an agreement. "We agree on many parts," he said, but not on the length of time 3M will pay a private company to take air samples from a proposed monitor installed near the plant.

Bailey was vague discussing the closed-door talks, but said the city has requested three years of air monitoring. 3M representatives, he said, believed only one year was necessary.

"I did not leave the meeting (Thursday) feeling positive," Olsen said.

The parties have tentatively scheduled another meeting next week, officials said. If an agreement can't be reached then, Bailey said, the city is prepared to walk away from the table and resume its stance opposing the proposed permit modifications.

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