Cottage Grove residents oppose 3M waste-burning plan

More than 50 Cottage Grove residents urged officials to oppose a plan that would allow 3M to burn additional waste at its corporate incinerator in Cottage Grove.

The company burns hazardous waste from its plants around the country there but has asked for changes to its permits that would allow non-3M hazardous wastes to be burned there, too.

The Cottage Grove Environmental Task Force held a hearing Wednesday to get public input on the issue, and got an earful, said the South Washington County Bulletin.

Said the paper’s report on the meeting:

“Do not bring more crap into our area for us to breathe,” resident Trish Thompson said to the sound of applause in crowded city council chambers. Thompson said she has lived in the Pine Coulee neighborhood in southern Cottage Grove, near the 3M Cottage Grove plant, for 39 years.

And:

The proposal would not change permitted emissions limits, and pollution control officials have said the changes would not cause a significant increase in the incinerator’s emission levels.

But an irritated group on Wednesday told the task force it saw no benefit to the city in agreeing to go along with 3M’s desired changes. Many cited Cottage Grove water contaminated with 3M-produced perfluorochemicals as an example of why the city’s largest employer can’t be trusted.

The task force next month will deliver a recommendation to Cottage Grove City Council members on whether or not to oppose 3M’s proposed amendments.

A 3M spokesman said after the meeting that residents are angry with the company about PFC contamination in the area, which is separate from the burning issue:

“No question that the PFC issue is on people’s minds,” Bill,Nelson said. “I guess there’s a little bit of confusion.”

Nelson also said it was important to note the four dozen-or-so residents didn’t represent a wide swath of the community. He called the attendees “a small group of people with some very sincere feelings.”

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