Board won't require review of 3M incinerator waste plan

3M incinerator in Cottage Grove
The primary incinerator building and additional emission control equipment in Cottage Grove. Area residents oppose 3M's new plan to import waste chemicals to aid in the disposal of other hazardous materials, even though the company says pollution levels would only minimally rise.
Courtesy 3M

The Citizens Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency decided Tuesday not to require an environmental review of 3M's plan to import hazardous wastes from other states to burn in its incinerator.

The Board rejected a petition from Cottage Grove residents for a basic environmental review. 3M wants to bring in the wastes because it no longer produces enough of its own waste to operate its Cottage Grove incinerator efficiently. 3M has instead relied on natural gas.

The incinerator emits a half-pound of lead daily, said Alan Muller of the Coalition of Concerned Cottage Grove Citizens, a group that petitioned the agency to conduct the review.

"And a half-pound of lead is enough to poison large numbers of kids: lead's really bad stuff in really small amounts," Muller said. "That's only lead. Then we have arsenic, mercury, cadmium, all kinds of heavy metals that can't be destroyed by any incinerator and that are coming out the smokestack every day."

The incinerator burns enough natural gas to heat 2,000 homes, said 3M site director Vickie Batroot.

"It's not good environmental stewardship to use energy that you don't have to," Batroot said. "The waste we're proposing to bring in are already existing wastes; they have to be dealt with anyway."