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Minneapolis foundry faces the fire against EPA

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(The Center Square) – The U.S. Environmental Protection is forcing part of a Minneapolis foundry to close for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

Smith Foundry has a year to shut down its melting and casting operations and the EPA said it failed a 2023 inspection. The foundry was also fined $80,000.

“Shutting down the furnace and casting operations is a win for this community, which has been historically disenfranchised and overburdened by pollution,” EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore said in a statement. “East Phillips residents deserve to breathe clean air and to live in a healthy, thriving community.”

During the 2023 inspection, officials found twice as much fine particulate emitted than allowed, aligning with the numerous complaints from local residents. The new owners of the facility, a Canadian private equity firm, said they are working to fix the issue.

In November, the new owners of the more than a century-old facility issued a statement, “We have been actively working with regulators to address and correct any issues identified in the EPA’s August report. With respect to the EPA’s report, it is important to be clear that Smith Foundry is a gray and ductile iron foundry and, therefore, does not process alloys that contain lead. As well, we are working with the EPA to complete emissions testing and have engaged an engineering firm to help carry out those tests.”

Since taking over the facility in December 2022, the Canadian firm says they have taken multiple steps to align the facility with environmental standards. Changes include hiring environmental consultants, providing additional training to all staff, replacing old equipment and replacing a portion of the roof. They claim to have spent $500,000 over the past decade to prevent pollution.

In response to the new agreement, Smith Foundry said it would “significantly alter” its operations, but continue its engineering and design work. While casting will be done elsewhere, metal finishing using metal grinders will continue at the facility.

Before the EPA’s agreement, Smith Foundry produced thousands of small to medium sized iron castings per year, employing about 50 different workers. It is unknown how the decision will affect the employment of the company.

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