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'A five-year guarantee'

3M would include a condition that prohibits the company from accepting compensation for burning non-3M waste in its 3M Cottage Grove hazardous waste incinerator if city council members -- and, then, pollution control agency officials -- approve of a Cottage Grove environmental task force's recommendations.

The Cottage Grove Task Force on the Environment delivered the recommendations Tuesday night after nearly three months of scrutinizing 3M's proposed amendments to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency permits governing the 38-year-old corporate hazardous waste incinerator in southern Cottage Grove.

Task force members approved recommending five stipulations that city officials said they hope alleviate concerns about the 3M proposal, including one that would preclude 3M from accepting payment for burning waste generated by non-3M sources.

But the prohibition wouldn't necessarily last in perpetuity -- the permit can be amended again when renewed in 2015.

"It's progress," said task force chair Matthew Porett, "a five-year guarantee."

3M wants to begin accepting waste from non-3M sources to replace fuel oil and natural gas currently burned to supplement waste from 3M's North American operations. The company would also accept law enforcement materials under the proposed amendments.

Cottage Grove City Council members will consider the task force's guidance next week. If approved, they will be forwarded to pollution control officials merely as recommendations -- Cottage Grove has no regulatory authority over 3M's incinerator-related air emissions and hazardous waste permit modification request.

3M Cottage Grove site director Vicki Batroot said Tuesday 3M was comfortable with the conditions laid out.

"We're disappointed at the time delay, because time is money for us," Batroot said of the permit modification that was suspended in May. But 3M is pleased, she said, the company and city conducted the task force process.

More restrictive move rejected

Cottage Grove's only regulatory power lies in the almost 40-year-old special land use permit granted by the city.

Porett proposed the city formally request to reopen the permit -- typically left untouched once approved, said community development director Howard Blin -- to include a condition that would prevent 3M from operating the facility as a commercial incinerator. Porett's amendment was narrowly voted down.

Because 3M's pollution control agency permits must be renewed every five years, proposed language prohibiting commercial incineration could be removed through the public permit renewal process.

"I approve the five year agreement," Porett said, "but if there's truly no intent (to operate the incinerator commercially) I don't see it as prohibitive" to reopen the special use permit.

Other provisos recommended Tuesday include:

* A condition in any pollution control agency permit modification (and the required 2010 permit renewal) to accept only specific types of bulk wastes with high fuel value.

* Only materials from Minnesota law enforcement agencies will be accepted by 3M for processing at the incinerator.

* 3M would establish a maximum limit of non-3M wastes accepted per year that would equal roughly two large tankers of waste per day. (3M officials originally said the proposal would mean approximately one extra tanker per day.)

* A Minnesota Pollution Control Agency update of the Ecological Risk Assessment of the incinerator that was completed in 2004.

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