Letter: Air, water quality below averageWhat is the role of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency?
By: Mike Houston, Cottage Grove, South Washington County Bulletin
What is the role of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency? I have read the recent survey information on the 3M Incinerator proposal and I agree with the residents. Reading that on a scale of 0 to 100 with 100 being the best, the water quality rating is 20 and air quality is 32 for Cottage Grove and it is significantly below the national average of 55 for water quality and 48 for air quality concerns me greatly.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has stated the 3M proposal will initially increase particulates by 5 percent. Burning the liquid hazardous waste solvents will also increase nitrogen oxides and other gases to the atmosphere versus burning natural gas or shutting down when material is not available. These gases released in the hazardous waste burning process increase ground level ozone pollution. The increase in particulate and ground level ozone will hurt the air quality rating. Shouldn’t we at least bring the air and water quality up to the national average before modifying or granting additional permits that will have any negative impact on the air and water quality no matter how small an increase the agency and 3M say it will be?
The other thing that is very difficult to accept is bringing in 20 million pounds of liquid hazardous waste which will contain some level of heavy metals. Recently, we have all read that consumer goods from China containing lead and cadmium create a health risk. The level of contamination is very low, but I have not read anywhere where any level of exposure to lead and cadmium is good for you. In fact, when you look at the agency’s position on the 3M proposal it reminds you of two government bureaucracies not talking to each other. How can the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency endorse bringing in 20 million pounds of liquid hazardous waste that will contain some level of lead and other heavy metals (no matter how small the amount) when we have laws in Minnesota banning lead in paint? Why would it be OK to bring in liquid hazardous waste containing lead and ban it in paint?
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency needs to get back to why it was established — furtherance of the welfare of the people of the state of Minnesota — not Wisconsin where 3M has said the initial waste will come from. I agree with the majority of the residents in Cottage Grove and oppose the 3M incinerator proposal.