The air quality near Forbes should improve, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), because new dust control measures will be implemented at the taconite facility.
Area residents’ homes have been affected by dust from the United Taconite plant more than a dozen times during a 31-month timeframe, MPCA said.
UTAC has agreed to pay a $50,000 penalty to the MPCA for alleged state air quality violations adjacent to its Fairlane plant. The company is also required to update its dust control plan, determine the most effective actions to address future dust releases and evaluate the applicability of new dust control technologies.
The agency determined the facility began to periodically violate Minnesota’s fugitive, or airborne, dust rule in early January 2013. Thirteen additional events occurred between that date and July 30, 2015. The rule requires that facilities take steps to control avoidable amounts of particulate matter (dust emissions) from sources such as mining, roads, ore handling and stockpiles from becoming airborne.
UTAC’s Fairlane taconite production facility includes a tailings basin where the company deposits tailings from taconite pellet production. These tailings can become airborne and be deposited around the tailings basin as fugitive dust, MPCA said in a news release.