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Eye On Mining: Cleveland-Cliffs gets $50k fine for air pollution violation

FORBES, MN — Cleveland-Cliffs has reached a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency over air pollution violations at United Taconite.

The company, which operates a number of mines on the Iron Range, will have to pay a $50,000 penalty for air quality violations at its processing facility in Forbes.

According to the federal lawsuit, on at least 13 occasions between January 2012 and June 2015 “Cliffs caused or allowed emissions of particulate matter from one or both of its indurating furnaces to exceed the emission limits.”

In another instance, the lawsuit said Cliffs operated pollution control equipment outside of its required daily average water flow limits for a total of nearly 700 days.

Cliffs Director of Corporate Communications, Pat Persico, told CBS 3 that the alleged violations date back five years and were corrected years ago.

Persico added that Cliffs is required to routinely self-report potential exceedances of environmental controls. So if something is wrong they would know.

“So once the EPA notified UTAC of the allegations a thorough evaluation was conducted with EPA and it was discovered that a significant portion of the allegations turned out to be false alarms.” Persico added, “The agreement resolves all alleged violations. It will formally incorporate improvements that have already been made at United Taconite.”

We’re also hearing from Eric Schaeffer, the Director of the Environmental Integrity Project. He said the settlement reached was not enough.

“President Trump’s EPA just settled the case for $50,000, not even a tap on the wrist for violations that serious. There’s not much else in this consent decree, which tells you how little this Administration values the Clean Air Act and public health.”

Cleveland-Cliffs added that they proposed voluntarily to install, at United Taconite, a new higher efficiency dust collector and that was accepted by the EPA as part of this resolution, but added, this is an equipment upgrade and it’s unrelated to any compliance issues.

Kristen Vake

Anchor, Reporter

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