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CG council moves to ban commercial incinerators

Cottage Grove City Council members moved Wednesday to shift some authority over proposed changes at the 3M Cottage Grove hazardous waste incinerator back to local officials, directing staff to draw up an amendment to the city's land use codes that would ban commercial incinerators within Cottage Grove's borders.

The action came after the five-person council narrowly approved a list of measures drawn up by a city task force intended to ease concerns in the city over proposed 3M amendments to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency permits.

3M would be allowed to burn chemical wastes produced outside the company for no compensation at its Cottage Grove corporate incinerator under the changes.

But, 3M officials declined to reopen the city-issued special land use permit that governs the facility and insert language that would prohibit the company from charging a fee to incinerate non-3M waste. So, pushed by Mayor Myron Bailey, city officials will now draft changes to Cottage Grove zoning codes that will limit the construction of any additional incinerators and would hamstring 3M's options at the 39-year-old incinerator.

Stipulations recommended last week by the city's Task Force on the Environment, agreed to by 3M, would have placed a moratorium of at least five years on commercial incineration at the site, until the facility is required to be re-permitted again in 2015.

For the mayor and city council members, though, what the task force's chair last week called a "five-year guarantee" wasn't enough.

"I can't live with hoping (3M doesn't) make it a commercial incinerator," Bailey said in an interview.

Pollution control officials say the proposed amendments will not significantly increase emissions from the incinerator, which have been measured well below permitted limits.

3M voluntarily suspended its permit amendment application with the pollution control agency after fierce opposition from city leaders and some Cottage Grove residents surfaced last spring.

Vicki Batroot, site director at 3M Cottage Grove, had little to say in response to the city council's move Wednesday after praising the task force process last week.

"We'll just wait and see," Batroot said.