Permit and license Holders; the MPCA regulated community:

  • There are tens of thousands of people, facilities and projects at any given time that affect Minnesota’s environment.
  • They are people conducting businesses and activities which vary in size and type: manufacturing, mines, farms, airports, local government, and land development; any public or private entity that affects our air, water or land.
  • These entities are regulated through a variety of laws and permits that set limits on what pollutants they may emit to the air, the quality of water they can release, and how they must protect the land they occupy.

MPCA’s role:

  • It is the goal of the MPCA to monitor and assist all these permit holders to comply with State and Federal regulations.
  • MPCA enforcement inspectors periodically visit facilities and projects and review reports and tests, to make sure environmentally-protective rules and standards are being met.
  • MPCA enforcement and emergency response staff respond to tip calls and investigate, and oversee cleanup of environmental spills and releases
  • The #1 goal is compliance.

Compliance and enforcement tools:

MPCA enforcement staff use a variety of tools to respond to instances of noncompliance; ranging from a phone call, to a letter, to an enforcement action assessing a financial penalty.  Below are two common tools for serious or repeat violations.

  • Administrative Penalty Orders require the violation to be corrected within 30 days, and also contain a penalty up to $20,000. In some instances, the penalty may be completely or partially forgiven.
  • Stipulation Agreements are used for more significant environmental violations.  This agreement is a negotiated settlement between the MPCA and the legally-responsible party.  The penalty normally exceeds $20,000 and/or a longer period of time is needed to correct the violation. It may also contain additional set penalties which are triggered if the requirements of the agreement are not met.  Agreements may contain a Supplemental Environmental Project, which is an environmentally beneficial project which a party undertakes to offset a portion of the penalty.

How are penalties set? 

  • Agency staff meet in a forum setting to discuss factors related to a given enforcement case. This forum process helps make the outcome more fair and eliminates the possibility of any one person determining the outcome.
  • Penalties are based on the potential and/or actual impacts to human health and the environment, as well as how far out of compliance the party was.
  • Penalties are set to recover any economic benefit or excess profits resulting from noncompliance.
  • Penalties may be increased if there is previous enforcement history with the party.
  • Penalties may be increased if the party acts willfully or with recklessness or responds dishonestly to an investigation.
  • Penalties should be consistent with previous,  similar cases.
  • Penalties should be large enough to deter noncompliance by others.
  • Penalties may be paid in installments over a period of time, or reduced, if the party’s financial records prove an inability to pay.

News releases:

The MPCA sends out news releases about environmental enforcement cases to inform the public and provide a deterrent factor to other permitted parties.

  • Individual news releases are sent out for stipulation agreements of $20,000 or more.
  • News releases summarizing large and smaller penalties are also sent out quarterly.

Quarterly summary of enforcement actions:

Each quarter of a given calendar year, a summary of all completed administrative penalty orders, and stipulation agreements is published on the MPCA web site. The summary offers more detail on the nature of violations and MPCA staff contacts for further information on specific cases. Like individual news releases, the summary also provides information to the public and serves as a deterrent factor to other permitted parties.

MPCA reviews proposed feedlot in Wright County

St. Paul, Minn. – Forsman Farms plans to build and operate a laying hen feedlot in Wright County near Cokato. The feedlot will include barns for hens, a manure storage barn, and a processing plant to prepare the eggs for shipment. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has prepared an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for the proposed project, and is making the document available for public comment through February 16, 2016.

The EAW is meant to describe the ways in which the proposed project could affect air, water, land use, and habitat, as well as potential community impacts, such as odors, noise, dust, and vehicle traffic.

Possible environmental impacts include dust, odors, and air contaminants resulting from the hens, manure, and the collection and disposal of dead animals. Forsman Farms plans to address these potential issues by using a manure drying system that decreases the likelihood of excessive odors and air contaminants. Additionally, Forsman Farms will follow animal composting guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

The public is invited to review and comment on the EAW, which is available at https://www.pca.state.mn.us/env-review. The MPCA will use the comments it receives to evaluate the potential for significant environmental effects from the project, and to decide whether a more comprehensive environmental review, an Environmental Impact Statement, is needed.

Comments must be submitted in writing by 4:30 p.m. on February 16, 2016 to Kevin Kain, 520 Lafayette Rd. N., Saint Paul, MN 55155-4194, by e-mail to kevin.kain@state.mn.us, or by fax to 651-297-2343. Copies of the EAW are also available for review at this address, or upon request by calling 651-757-2101. Questions should be directed to Kain at 651-757-2482.

The MPCA’s draft NPDES/SDS permit on Forsman Farms is also available for public comment, and is posted at https://www.pca.state.mn.us/public-notices. Comments may be submitted to Kim Brynildson, 520 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155, by e-mail to kim.brynildson@state.mn.us, or by fax to 651-297-2343. Questions should be directed to Brynildson at 651-757-2250.

Broadcast version

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has reviewed the potential environmental effects of a proposed hen feedlot in Wright County near Cokato. The 150-acre feedlot will include barns for hens, manure storage, and an egg processing plant.

An Environmental Assessment Worksheet, which describes the project’s potential effects on land, water, and air, is open for public comment through February 16, 2016. The document and instructions for submitting comments are available on the M-P-C-A website.

MPCA issues air pollution health advisory for central, southern Minnesota

St. Paul, Minn.– The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air pollution health advisory for central and southern Minnesota effective early Thursdaymorning through early evening of Thursday, January 21.

Air quality monitors indicate slowly-rising fine particle pollution values across the majority of the state of Minnesota. Overnight Wednesday, a combination of low clouds and fog and light southeasterly to easterly winds are expected to cause fine particle pollution to approach a level considered unhealthy. The peak will be during the morning rush hour and to continue into the late afternoon hours on Thursday, January 21. Much of central and southern Minnesota will be impacted. Conditions are expected to improve by late afternoon or early evening on Thursday when increased northwesterly winds begin to disperse pollutants.

An air pollution health advisory is issued when the AQI approaches but is expected to remain below 101, a level considered Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. The MPCA issues an air pollution health alert when air quality is expected to reach and remain above that level..

At-risk Populations: Fine particle pollution is expected to be neara level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Populations sensitive to fine particles include those with preexisting cardiovascular or respiratory disease, the elderly, children, and individuals who participate in activities requiring extended or heavy exertion, both indoors and outdoors. Members of these groups are encouraged to postpone or reduce vigorous activity and minimize exposure to local sources of air pollution (i.e., heavy duty vehicle traffic, wood fires, and candles). Even individuals who are otherwise healthy may experience health effects when pollution levels increase.

Health Impacts: Exposure to high levels of fine particles has been linked with both respiratory and cardiovascular health effects. Fine particles may exacerbate pre-existing health conditions and may cause individuals to experience chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing or fatigue. If you experience these symptoms, contact your physician. 

Pollution-reduction Tips: Fine particles are produced from combustion activities, which include fossil fuel-based energy generation, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline-powered snow-clearing equipment, and wood burning. Conserving energy, buying clean renewable power, and utilizing alternate means of transportation, such as mass transit, will all reduce your daily contribution to air pollution. During air quality alerts, residents are particularly encouraged to postpone or reduce vehicle trips and engine idling, the use of gasoline-powered equipment, and burning wood.

Visit http://www.pca.state.mn.us for information on current air quality conditions in your area. To receive daily air quality forecasts and air quality alert notifications by email or text message sign up at http://mn.enviroflash.info.

Broadcast version

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air pollution health advisory for central and southern Minnesota effective early Thursday morning through early evening of Thursday, January 21.

Air quality monitors indicate slowly-rising fine particle pollution values across the majority of the state of Minnesota.  Much of central and southern Minnesota will be impacted during the daytime hours on Thursday.

Conditions are expected to improve by late afternoon or early evening on Thursday when increased northwesterly winds begin to disperse pollutants.

Violations lead to better safety, accountability for St. Cloud plastic manufacturer

Brainerd, Minn. ― Carlson Engineered Composites USA, Inc., has paid a fine and taken corrective actions as a result of hazardous waste, air quality, and industrial stormwater violations at its plastic composite manufacturing and surface coating facility in St. Cloud, Minn.

According to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency staff inspection reports from Jan. 2015, the company had a number of violations, some dating back to 2008 when the facility was opened.
• Hazardous waste violations found at the facility include:
• Operating without a required hazardous waste generator identification number.
• Intentionally disposing of waste acetone through evaporation.
• Disposing of waste rags, gloves, sorbent pads, and paint booth filters into the garbage.
• Failing to evaluate, label, and properly store hazardous wastes at the facility.
• Failing to coordinate with local police, fire department, and hospital to identify hazards associated with the facility
• Failing to assign an emergency coordinator, and train staff in hazardous waste safety procedures.

If a facility’s potential air emissions exceed certain thresholds, it must apply for and receive MPCA air quality permits before construction and operation. Since the company constructed and operated without air permits since 2008, required annual emissions inventories and other associated reports were not submitted to the MPCA.

The stormwater-related violations include operating without a required industrial stormwater permit.

Carlson Engineered Composites has paid a $135,000 civil penalty and completed a series of corrective actions to help ensure accountability and safety for the surrounding community in the future.

The MPCA’s environmental regulations are designed to help protect air, water, land, and human health. When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner. For a comprehensive list of enforcement actions by the MPCA, refer to the agency Web site at www.pca.state.mn.us.

Broadcast version

Carlson Engineered Composites Incorporated, has paid 135-thousand dollars and taken corrective actions to address a number of environmental violations at its plastic composites manufacturing and surface coating facility in St. Cloud. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency staff inspection reports indicate the company constructed and operated the facility without first getting required air quality permits, improperly stored and disposed of hazardous wastes, and operated without a required industrial stormwater permit.

A complete list of penalties issued by the M-P-C-A is available on their Web site at www.pca.state.mn.us.