Two-year investigation finds 3M failed to manage hazardous waste at Cottage Grove facility
May 14, 2021
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today announced an enforcement agreement with 3M regarding the company’s failure to properly record, store, inspect, and dispose of hazardous waste at its manufacturing and waste incineration facility in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. The findings are part of a two-year investigation that started in September 2018.
According to the agreement, 3M failed to properly store hazardous waste containers in permitted hazardous waste storage areas. The investigation found one container of hydrofluoric acid, an extremely toxic chemical compound, releasing gases into the air. An additional 901 hazardous waste containers containing hydrofluoric acid, some with bulging barrel lids, were stored throughout the Cottage Grove facility. 3M failed to immediately notify the MPCA of an excessive and abnormal unpermitted emission that may cause air pollution that endangers human health.
In addition, the MPCA determined that 3M stored restricted wastes beyond the one-year limit and failed to prove that the storage was solely for the purpose to facilitate proper recovery, treatment, or disposal. Some hazardous waste containers were stored 724 days beyond the 365-day restriction.
As part of the enforcement agreement, 3M completed 15 corrective measures, including improved hazardous waste wastewater prevention methods, updated annual training for employees, and enhanced recordkeeping of hazardous waste at the facility. In addition to corrective actions, 3M paid $80,000 in civil penalties for its violations.
MPCA rules and regulations are designed to protect human health and the environment by limiting pollution emissions and discharges from facilities. When companies do not fully comply with regulatory requirements, the resulting pollution can be harmful to people and the environment.