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Walmart to stop selling Water Gremlin products

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A sign for Water Gremlin is seen.
A sign for Water Gremlin, a White Bear Township, Minn., fishing tackle and battery component maker, is seen on Oct. 28, 2019. The company has been the focus of state enforcement action for months, most recently for tests that found a solvent was leaking out of the factory and into soil.
Matt Sepic | MPR News file

Walmart says it will stop selling products made by a Minnesota company after children who live with plant employees were found to have lead in their systems.

Water Gremlin makes lead fishing sinkers sold by Walmart. Spokesperson Leigh Stidham for the retail giant confirmed that once the inventory is sold, its stores will discontinue carrying items made by the White Bear Township manufacturer. It did not give a reason.

In a statement, Carl Dubois, Water Gremlin’s vice president of international manufacturing, said the company hopes to regain space on Walmart shelves “as the positive impacts of our multiple workplace hygiene protocol changes implemented throughout 2019 are realized.”

Under a court-ordered plan, Water Gremlin has instituted tougher measures to keep lead dust from being ingested by workers and their families. The Minnesota Department of Health says 24 children have elevated blood lead levels thought to be connected to the plant.

On Wednesday, Minnesota regulators and Water Gremlin were in court to give a progress update. Ramsey County District Court Judge Leonardo Castro said he was “particularly pleased with the employees response and how well they have been doing in whatever procedures have been implemented. At least the sample spot test we're getting almost 100 percent participation, so that's good to see.”

State and company officials told the judge that dozens of workers' cars still need further cleaning to remove lead.