State departments is asking the court to enforce an extended cessation of operations at a Twin Cities company after elevated lead levels were found in the children of its employees.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) issued a temporary order requiring Water Gremlin, of White Bear Township, to stop manufacturing its lead products following an inspection on Saturday.
What's more, the MDH and DLI commissioners have asked the Ramsey County District Court to issue an injunction extending the order until it's satisfied Water Gremlin has taken the steps "to prevent the lead poisoning of workers’ children."
Children of Water Gremlin staffers were found to have high blood lead levels linked to lead dust brought home by workers unknowingly.
At least 12 children of workers had elevated blood lead levels, including two with blood lead levels above the level of 15 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL), the level above which it's considered to present a "particularly serious health risk for children."
The Saturday inspection "found conditions and practices at the plant presented substantial risk of physical harm."
The court action was taken because the MDH and DLI felt the efforts taken by Water Gremlin have not been successful.
Gov. Tm Walz described the situation at Water Gremlin as "unacceptable."
“As governor, the most important part of my job is protecting the health of Minnesotans. We have evidence that unsafe conditions at Water Gremlin’s facility resulted in workers unknowingly bringing home lead dust—causing lead poisoning in their children," he said.
"This is heartbreaking. It is unacceptable. And it is not the first time Water Gremlin has jeopardized the health of Minnesotans.
"That is why we took action today requiring Water Gremlin to immediately halt operations. We will continue to do everything in our power to protect children from this serious public health threat and prevent any further wrongdoing by this company in Minnesota."
Earlier this year, Water Gremlin agreed to a $7 million payout after it was found to be emitting chemicals that have been linked to cancer and birth defects.