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Activists Voice Concerns in Ongoing Smith Foundry Investigation

CEO Khai Intela
Residents and climate activists in Minneapolis’ East Phillips neighborhood are raising their voices and demanding the closure of Smith Foundry. Despite regulators claiming that the foundry is operating within the permitted limits, local environmental activists...

Residents and climate activists in Minneapolis’ East Phillips neighborhood are raising their voices and demanding the closure of Smith Foundry. Despite regulators claiming that the foundry is operating within the permitted limits, local environmental activists remain unconvinced and are continuing their fight against the iron foundry. The ongoing investigation into pollution levels has sparked concerns among the community and calls for immediate action.

A Troubled Past

Last summer, federal regulators discovered several violations of state and federal regulations during a surprise inspection at Smith Foundry. The inspection revealed issues with the site's pollution control systems, leading to elevated emissions of particulate matter and lead, breaching the foundry's permit. While recent test data shows that the foundry is now in compliance with the permitted levels for particulate matter emissions, concerns about lead emissions and the overall safety of the facility still persist.

The Call for Action

Local residents and activists remain skeptical about the foundry's compliance and have lost trust in both the facility and state and federal regulators. They strongly believe that the foundry should be shut down immediately to ensure the well-being of the neighborhood. Cassie Holmes, a member of the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute, expressed her concerns about the cumulative environmental impacts and the safety of the community. The sentiment is shared by many who want the foundry out of their neighborhood.

People hold signs outside a large building People hold signs outside a large building.

Safety Concerns Persist

Despite the foundry's latest test results being within the permitted limits, activists argue that the existing permit fails to ensure the safety of a residential area. Certain areas of the facility are not filtered through pollution control equipment, and emissions from those areas were not tested during the inspection. The current permit does not require filters in those areas either. As the foundry works on renewing its permit, it will have to provide updated pollution information to state regulators. The tightening of pollution regulations in South Minneapolis since the last permit renewal will require the foundry to add more pollution control equipment to meet the new requirements.

Operating Without Essential Equipment

Evan Mulholland, a lawyer with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, finds it illogical that the foundry is still allowed to operate without the necessary pollution control equipment. Concerned activists and residents fear the potential health risks associated with the foundry's operations in a community that has already faced environmental challenges in the past. With smoke and odors frequently emanating from the facility that is located near a daycare center and a popular bike path, the community's anger towards the foundry continues to grow.

A man speaks into a mic A man speaks into a mic.

A Community's Determination

The East Phillips community has expressed its frustration and determination to see the foundry shut down completely. The diverse neighborhood has experienced environmental problems and worse-than-average health outcomes. Activists have pointed out the need for clean air and a safer environment for the residents who live near the foundry.

The Foundry's Response

Smith Foundry has stated that it is cooperating with regulators during the ongoing investigation. The company has made repairs and replaced equipment following the surprise inspection by the EPA in May. The foundry's President, Adolfo Quiroga, affirmed the commitment to meeting state and federal air quality standards while providing good union jobs to the people in Minneapolis.

The Path Ahead

Regulators assure the public that they will keep them updated throughout the investigation and permit process. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has installed community air quality monitors near the foundry and maintains a web page with the latest information on the investigation. The MPCA aims to establish an ongoing dialogue with the East Phillips community, addressing concerns and answering questions. As the foundry works on submitting a complete permit application in the coming months, there will be opportunities for public comment. The end of the year could mark the issuance of a final permit, according to both regulators and Smith Foundry.

In conclusion, the ongoing Smith Foundry investigation has sparked strong activism and concerns within the East Phillips community. Activists and residents are resolute in their demand for the foundry's closure, citing safety issues and distrust in regulators. As the investigation continues, the community remains determined to protect the well-being of its residents and create a cleaner environment for everyone.