3M granted permit to burn imported waste

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

3M has secured a permit to start burning hazardous waste produced by other companies at its incinerator in Cottage Grove.

The Citizens' Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency approved the permit Tuesday over the objections of some people who live near the incinerator. Neighbors worry the permit will lead to increased pollution, which both 3M and the MPCA dispute.

3M has used its incinerator to dispose of its own industrial waste since 1971. Burning solvents produced elsewhere will allow the company to spend less on natural gas. 3M expects to save between $1 and $2 million annually.

People living near the incinerator fought the change for more than 3 years. Cottage Grove resident Mike Houston urged the MPCA's Citizens' Board to reject the permit, because he said it would not benefit the public.

"There's no increase in taxes to the state of Minnesota. There's no new jobs being created. There's no new products being created. There's nothing," Houston said. "All's there is, is just more pollution being created."

The MPCA says pollution levels under the new permit will be about the same as the emissions the incinerator produced in the recent past.

3M Site Director Vickie Batroot says the company was sensitive to the neighbors' concerns.

"For three years plus, we have listened to input. We have made many extensive changes, because of that input, because we want to listen to what the community concerns are," Batroot said.

3M agreed to limits on ash and chlorine content in the waste it burns from other companies.

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