Twin Cities company will pay $7M after releasing chemical linked to cancer

Water Gremlin had been releasing a chemical within a mile radius of its White Bear Township factory.
Publish date:

The Twin Cities company that shut down its production after it was found to be releasing a pollutant linked to cancer and birth defects has agreed to pay $7 million over the infraction.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency announced on Friday that Water Gremlin, of White Bear Township, will pay a $4.5 million civil penalty, $1 million for corrective actions at its factory, and $1.5 million to conduct two "supplemental environmental projects."

It comes after the firm, which makes fishing sinkers and battery terminal posts, was found to have released into the air the chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) at levels higher than permitted under state health guidelines.

The MPCA warned those living within a mile radius of the factory at 4400 Otter Lake Road that they may have been exposed to elevated levels of TCE.

"The exposures to TCE that these communities suffered should never have happened,” said Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Commissioner Laura Bishop. 

"We know this penalty will be small consolation to those who may face increased health risks because they lived near the facility. Still, it is one of the largest environmental penalties in the state’s history, and sends a strong signal of the agency’s expectations."

Screen Shot 2019-02-22 at 10.57.25 AM

Water Gremlin has been using TCE to coat its battery terminal posts since the '70s, but shut down production at the request of the MPCA after the emission levels were noted.

While the impact on human health depends on the level and longevity of exposure, being exposed to TCE can have impacts on immune, central nervous and reproductive systems, as well as the liver and kidneys.

Follow BMTN on Google News for the latest stories

It can also affect fetal development during pregnancy, while long-term exposure can increase the risk of kidney cancer, as well as the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and liver cancer.

TCE managed to escape from Water Gremlin in higher-than-permitted levels because the company's carbon adsorber wasn't working properly, though it's not clear for how long the unsafe levels of the chemical were emitted.

The company will be allowed to restart production, however they'll have to use an alternative, less toxic product than TCE to coat its terminal posts. 

It's also agreed to place air monitors on all four sides of its property to ensure emissions are within health limits.

Next Up

minneapolis police

Police arrest man in connection to deadly Minneapolis hit-and-run

The victim died the scene in north Minneapolis on Friday.

Jordan Greenway

Wild's fast start vanishes in loss to Coyotes

Arizona scored five unanswered goals in a 5-2 loss.

Screen Shot 2021-03-06 at 4.12.00 PM

Police seeking tips in search for road rage shooting suspect

The incident took place in Maplewood last week.

Paige Bueckers

Paige Bueckers lands on Wooden Award list for women's college basketball

The Hopkins grad is the only freshman on the 15-player ballot.

Jamal Mashburn Jr.

Gophers fall under .500 after OT loss to Rutgers

The Gophers are under .500 for the first time this season.

police tape, crime scene

Man arrested for killing of his father in Wabasha County

The 73-year-old man was found dead at a home in rural Zumbro Falls.

Jake Odorizzi

Report: Jake Odorizzi to sign with Astros

The former Twins pitcher is headed to Houston on a two-year deal.

covid-19, coronavirus

South African COVID-19 variant detected in Wisconsin

There have been no cases of the South African strain found in Minnesota.

Brian Dutcher

Could Brian Dutcher be Gophers target to replace Richard Pitino?

Dutcher's contract has a buyout clause that could lead him to Minnesota.


Water Gremlin

Twin Cities firm halts production after release of harmful fumes

Water Gremlin stopped production after concerns over emissions of trichloroethylene.

Water Gremlin

MN company ordered to shut down after children suffer lead poisoning

Elevated levels of lead were found in the children of Water Gremlin employees.

Westwood of Duluth

Man died at assisted-living facility after swallowing chemical cleaner

The facility has been found responsible for the maltreatment of the resident.

U of M researchers identify link between e-cigarettes and cancer

E-cigs contain trace elements of a chemical that can establish in the body after inhalation.

Screen Shot 2020-08-19 at 8.16.50 PM

Salmonella outbreak in Minnesota linked to fresh peaches

Twenty-three people have been sickened in the outbreak.

Study suggests link between 3M chemical and cancer

Scientists focused on a chemical found in drinking water in Ohio and West Virginia, but they also say it exists in smaller amounts in Washington County. But a health official in Minnesota cautions that studies so far on perfluorooctanoic acid, of PFOA, have been inconsistent and the latest research doesn't necessarily mean there is an increased risk of cancer here.

Screen Shot 2019-08-02 at 1.55.34 PM

2 injured after pool chemical leak in Burnsville

Residents in two of the buildings were evacuated.

'Severe lung injuries' linked to vaping found in Minnesota teens

Similar reports have been received in Wisconsin as well.