Senator Roger Chamberlain calls on Ramsey County Attorney, Legislative Auditor to investigate Water Gremlin and MPCA for possible criminal violations

Update: Sen. Chamberlain also sent letters to Gov. Tim Walz, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher to request similar investigations.

Minnesota state Senator Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes) today asked Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles to investigate the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Water Gremlin for possible criminal violations related to Water Gremlin’s history of TCE emissions.

“We have a responsibility to protect the health and well-being of our citizens,” said Sen. Chamberlain. “Someone, or more likely several people, dropped the ball in the Water Gremlin situation. White Bear Lake residents deserve to know what happened so those responsible can be held to account.

“It’s disappointing that some politicians are choosing to grandstand and politicize the issue, instead of doing the unglamorous leg work that will lead to an actual solution,” added Sen. Chamberlain. “I have been working for months with community activists, the MPCA, and officials from Water Gremlin, and I won’t stop until residents of White Bear Lake get answers.”

In an August 28 letter to Ramsey County Attorney Choi, Sen. Chamberlain asked the attorney’s office to investigate Water Gremlin and the MPCA to determine who is responsible for a long-term breakdown in permitting and environmental testing processes. That breakdown caused Water Gremlin to release TCE into the atmosphere for nearly two decades.

In a separate letter sent the same day, Sen. Chamberlain asked Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles to investigate the MPCA’s overall management of Water Gremlin’s permitting history as well as the agency’s handling of violations.

Last session, Sen. Chamberlain carried a bill that would have banned commercial TCE use in Minnesota. It nearly became law, but Gov. Tim Walz did not want it included in the final budget agreement.

The full text of both letters is as follows:

August 28, 2019

John J. Choi
Ramsey County Attorney
345 Wabasha St N
Suite 120
Saint Paul, MN 55102

Dear County Attorney Choi,

I am writing on behalf of my constituents residing and working in the White Bear Township and White Bear Lake area affected by the emissions release by Water Gremlin Company.  As their elected official, it is my responsibility to explore every possible option to resolve the issue.

Over the past year, as information has become public, it has become apparent that there may be a break-down in the permitting and environmental testing processes that safeguard the health of our environment and citizens. Additionally, while this information is concerning in and of itself, there are also disputes about the accuracy of data and the timeline of when various parties became aware of dangerous contaminants in the air, water, and ground soil surrounding the Water Gremlin facility.

With this in mind, I am requesting that your office investigate responsible individuals at both the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Water Gremlin to determine applicability of criminal sanctions, under current law, particularly Minn. Stat. 115.071, Subdivision 2 or Minn. Stat. 609.671.

Prudence requires that we explore all options for us to come to a prompt and satisfactory conclusion in this case. As such, Minnesotans would be well served by a complete investigation by those who have authority to engage in fact-finding and enforcement of our state’s laws.

Thank you for your time and consideration. If you need any further information to proceed in this matter, please contact me at any time.

Sincerely,

Senator Roger Chamberlain
State Senate District 38

cc: Jim Nobles, MN Legislative Auditor

August 28, 2019

James R. Nobles
MN Legislative Auditor
658 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN 55155

Dear Mr. Nobles,

I am writing on behalf of my constituents residing and working in the White Bear Township and White Bear Lake area affected by the emissions release by Water Gremlin Company.  As their elected official, it is my responsibility to explore every possible avenue to resolve the issue.

Over the past year, as information has become public, it has become apparent that there may be a break-down in the permitting and environmental testing processes that safeguard the health of our environment and citizens. Additionally, while this information is concerning in and of itself, there are disputes about the accuracy of data and the timeline of when various parties became aware of dangerous contaminants in the air, water, and ground soil surrounding the Water Gremlin facility.

For these reasons, I am requesting that the Legislative Auditor’s office investigate the MN Pollution Control Agency’s overall management of Water Gremlin’s emission permitting history, since permitting began for the company, and the MN Pollution Control Agency’s handling of their permit violations.

Prudence requires we explore all options to come to a prompt and satisfactory conclusion of this case. As such, Minnesotans would be well served by a complete investigation by those who have authority to engage in fact-finding and enforcement of our state’s laws.

If you need any further information to proceed in this matter, please contact me at any time. Thank for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Senator Roger Chamberlain
State Senate District 38

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