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Letter: Support 3M permit change

I disagree with the city of Cottage Grove's plan to approve a resolution opposing the change in the 3M incinerator permit.

First, I will tell you that I am both a lifetime resident of Cottage Grove (50 years) and an employee of 3M Cottage Grove. I am proud to have grown up and lived in Cottage Grove, and also to work for a company like 3M.

It was a surprise for me to hear 3M referred to as a problem company in recent articles and opinion letters. But then, most non-3Mers are probably not aware that 3M has been locally and nationally recognized on their long record of pollution prevention. We are at this point because 3M has been so successful at eliminating solvents in their own operations, that they now need externally sourced solvents to keep the incinerator cost-effective.

The 3M Cottage Grove incinerator provides local employment and a means to responsibly take care of industrial wastes. For the local community, 3M has offered the use of the incinerator, at no charge, to local law enforcement agencies to dispose of confiscated chemicals and drugs that they now have to ship out of state to incinerate at taxpayer expense. Contrary to some opinions, 3M has no plans to become a commercial incinerator, they only want to keep fuel costs down to remain cost-effective and maintain jobs.

Keeping the local industrial base competitive to keep jobs here is very much a benefit to our local community. I count my blessings to still be employed after the recent job reductions. This is not an insignificant matter to me and my household.

Yes, 3M disposed of chemicals in local landfills decades ago based on current practice, knowledge and regulations at that time. We all have learned a lot about waste streams and treatment since then.

In my opinion, to compare what is being proposed now to what happened back then is unfair and a reach.

I support the permit change and encourage you to do so as well.

Phil Orme

Cottage Grove