The Iron Range mining firm United Taconite has agreed to pay more than $500,000 to settle a federal lawsuit over air pollution from its processing plant in Forbes in northern Minnesota. The company was accused by federal prosecutors of emitting particulate matter into the air from early 2010 and into 2016. United agreed to pay a $50,000 cash penalty and $489,000 to replace an existing “wet scrubber” control system for one of its crushers with a more efficient dry fabric control system. The nature of the particulate emissions isn’t detailed in the documents, which only indicate they resulted from burning coal and gas, and handling taconite pellets. But according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), particulates from taconite plants include hazardous metal compounds such as lead and mercury. The documents also don’t specify whether the pollution caused any health risks to residents of the area. United Taconite’s emissions exceeded the limits allowed under its air-quality permit at least 13 times from January 2012 through June 2015, according to the lawsuit and the consent decree, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the EPA. The complaint also accused the company of misusing pollution-control equipment for at least… Read full this story
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