Viewpoint: 3M-Cottage Grove's incinerator proposal is a plan for progressWhat if the place where you work could immediately implement a change that was safe, cost-effective and good for the environment?
By: Vickie Batroot, South Washington County Bulletin
What if the place where you work could immediately implement a change that was safe, cost-effective and good for the environment?
That is an opportunity now available to the largest private employer in Cottage Grove, 3M, through a permit that has been publicly noticed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The permit will allow the 3M corporate waste management incinerator to process non-3M waste with a high energy content — in a manner that is environmentally sound and saves money.
Since the 1970s, waste from more than 100 3M plants in North America has been safely processed at our Cottage Grove site. Until recently, that material has provided adequate fuel to operate our incinerator at its optimal temperature.
3M has worked diligently to reduce the amount of waste generated at its manufacturing operations. So successful has 3M’s environmental program been at reducing, reusing and recycling material that it has resulted in a significant reduction of solvent waste sent to Cottage Grove. To replace this volume, our company has been required to purchase an increasing amount of natural gas and fuel oil to fuel the incinerator. This means that enough non-renewable resources to heat 2,000 homes through a Minnesota winter are being expended unnecessarily. However, a revised permit will allow the 3M Cottage Grove campus to accept non-3M solvents as supplemental fuel, safely processing those materials and saving environmental resources.
Here are some key facts:
-- Under the new permit, there will be no measurable increase in air emissions at Cottage Grove.
-- As a service to the community, we will resume air monitoring after the permit takes effect.
-- 3M will receive no compensation for processing non-3M materials. The incinerator is not becoming a commercial operation.
-- There are strict requirements about the types of wastes that can be accepted at our Cottage Grove facility. Just like today, all of the material will be tested to make sure it is safe for disposal and processing.
-- Our Cottage Grove operations will continue to be regulated by the MPCA, Environmental Protection Agency, Washington County and others. All of these agencies make frequent visits to the 3M Cottage Grove campus to make sure our facility is safe and fully compliant.
I hope you will join me in supporting this safe, environmentally sound and cost effective plan.
Batroot is site director of 3M-Cottage Grove.