December 9, 2011
Re: Northern Metals Application for Major Permit Amendment
Dear Mr. Lynott, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Cc: Governor Mark Dayton, Senator Al Franken, Senator Linda Higgins, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Representative Keith Ellison, Representative Joe Mullery, Representative Bobby Joe Champion, 3rd Ward City Council Member Diane Hofstede
Hawthorne Neighborhood Council is adamantly opposed to the approval of Northern Metals Application for Major Permit Amendment as the more lax regulations they are seeking would have devastating effects on our community.
This organization, and the Hawthorne neighborhood at large, is on track for creating and maintaining healthier and greener lifestyles and practices. The Hawthorne Eco-Village is a testament to these efforts as we continue to encourage residents to build and live “green.” The pollutants and toxic particulates that stand to be released into our air if the amendment to Northern Metals’ current permit is granted can only damage a community that is not in a position to withstand or absorb any further harm. As Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison stated in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency in February 2011, “In low-income and diverse communities of color, the benefits of reducing toxic air pollution cannot be overstated as these communities already face higher than average rates of asthma, birth defects, and respiratory disease.” This statement was made in regards to mercury pollution, one of the toxins that Northern Metals currently emits and of which further relaxed standards would allow increased release. Furthermore, Northern Metals would like to be exempted from cleaning their surface areas should there be precipitation or snowfall in excess of one inch on any given day! Taking into consideration the duration and severity of our Minnesota winters, Northern Metals may not have to clean the area surrounding their operation on a regular basis for up to six months out of the year. This is not a reasonable request by any means.
Northern Metals acknowledges that there are some parks in the area (although they fail to make mention of all them). There are several in close proximity as well as two schools, a high rise dwelling for seniors and persons with disabilities, townhomes and single family homes that will undoubtedly be affected by the carcinogens and other harmful byproducts produced by Northern Metals. Residents of the nearby townhomes currently cannot even open the windows in their homes during the summer months due to the dust and the odors from Northern Metals. This situation will only worsen if the application to amend emissions and cleanup guidelines are relaxed. The area in which Northern Metals is located
has been designated as a National Bird Fly Way. This fact has also been omitted from Northern Metals application. Further contamination from pollutants like mercury and hexavalent chromium (and the multitude of others detailed in their application) would be detrimental to supporting the wildlife that inhabits this area.
We understand that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will use comments received regarding this matter to determine if there is a need for an Environmental Impact Statement. We demand that this report be done!
The Mississippi River is an amenity that should be used, appreciated, and enjoyed by all residents of Minneapolis and walking and biking trails (especially the Grand Rounds Bike and Walking Path) have been developed for this purpose. Additionally, the Hawthorne neighborhood, along with several other North Minneapolis neighborhoods, has been working diligently to secure funding for a land bridge that would extend from 26th to 28th Avenues North and would connect North Minneapolis residents to the Mississippi River. If we are successful in this quest, this bridge as well as our walking and biking paths would actually abut Northern Metals’ facility and would end up exposing countless individuals to numerous poisons. Their application also does not appear to address the effects that additional emissions would have when considering prevailing winds that could significantly increase the areas potentially subject to contamination by Northern Metals’ increased output of toxins. The very fact that Northern Metals would like to extend their current hours of operation is reason enough for nearby residents to be concerned and angry as this would detract from their quality of life as they deal with additional noise and traffic. When you factor in the knowledge that an even greater amount of deadly chemicals will be released into our community it is beyond the scope of reason.
Economic development and success are very important to the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council, but it cannot come at the expense of our residents’ health. Virtually every plan for the Mississippi River being developed by the City of Minneapolis reflects the residents’ desire to move industry away from the river. The types of non-industrial businesses that we and other organizations are trying to attract to this area also reflect this trend. For example, Coloplast Industries produces medical supplies. How will an increase in toxic emissions affect their sterile standards?
We implore you to take our concerns into consideration as you review Northern Metals Application for Major Permit Amendment and deny their request regardless of the notion that their expected emissions may still fall within guidelines considered acceptable to the EPA.
If you have any questions, or would like additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.