Rosemount aluminum recycling facility fined for air pollution violations

·2 min read

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a $110,000 fine to Spectro Alloys Corp. in Rosemount for violating the Clean Air Act.

The settlement, announced Thursday, also requires Spectro to upgrade its air pollution control equipment at an estimated cost of $1 million, the EPA said in a news release. The improvements "will help protect the environment and public health in the surrounding area by reducing air emissions," the release said.

In June 2020, an EPA notice identified several violations at the aluminum recycling facility. The federal agency alleged Spectro's furnace stack exceeded emissions limits; the vent system on its scrap dryer wasn't sealed correctly; and that officials weren't properly monitoring lime injection at the dryer baghouse.

A baghouse consists of multiple furnace filters that control and collect pollutants. Lime removes acidic gases.

Spectro receives scrap aluminum, cleans it and melts it down into blocks of metal, which are then bought by foundries and die casters to make new products, including lawn mower engines and car parts.

Luke Palen, president of Spectro Alloys, said Spectro is the only plant in the Upper Midwest that recycles aluminum other than beverage containers. He said recycling aluminum creates 90% fewer emissions than producing it from scratch.

Residents living near the facility have complained of a chlorine smell, a metallic taste and a blue-green haze for years. Some said they couldn't be outside at times due to the acrid air and worried the conditions were harmful to their health.

Resident Victoria Schlautman said she understands that Spectro plays an important role as a recycler, "but their history of repeated violations is incredibly frustrating."

Rosemount officials have met with residents and representatives from Spectro, the EPA and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and will continue to monitor the situation, according to a city news release.

"We are pleased to see that Spectro Alloys is taking responsibility for their operation and acting to remedy the issue," the release said.

Spectro officials have denied wrongdoing and attributed the fogginess to humidity or, more recently, the distinct odor of aluminum oxide.

"The safety of the public and our employees is our top priority, and we have cooperated fully with the EPA to address these concerns," Palen said in an e-mail. "It is important to note that the EPA has not identified any immediate or long-term threat to public safety from this 2019 inspection and Spectro Alloys has been permitted to continue operations throughout this period."

Palen said the new equipment will "enhance automation and reduce emissions" and exceeds environmental standards.

Erin Adler • 612-673-1781

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