Air pollution at 3M plant in Wisconsin under scrutiny again

August 20, 2018 GMT

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources is investigating air pollution at a 3M Corp. factory in Wausau.

Records show that a pollution control device at the plant didn’t operate for several hours on April 13, and that the Minnesota-based company didn’t properly report some emissions in 2016 and 2017, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported .

Two years ago, a pollution case involving two Wausau sites owned by 3M was settled when Attorney General Brad Schimel’s Justice Department agreed to let the company make upgrades known as a supplemental environmental project, or SEP, rather than pay a penalty.


The company was required to spend $665,000 at the two sites.

That agreement was questioned at the time by the former top administrator of the DNR and a Justice Department lawyer who has since retired. They said that the Justice Department had been too lenient on the company.

Fanna Haile-Selassie, a 3M spokeswoman, said the pollution control device that malfunctioned has been fixed and emissions from the incident were minimal. DNR spokesman Jim Dick said the emissions reporting problems have been resolved.

The required upgrades were completed ahead of schedule, Haile-Selassie said.

“SEPs can be an important tool in getting companies back in compliance and providing long-term environmental benefit,” said Justice Department spokesman Alec J. Hanna.

If 3M didn’t follow through on its commitments, it would have had to pay forfeitures that were built into the 2016 stipulation, according to Hanna.

The Wausau plant makes granules used on roof shingles and is the 3M’s oldest manufacturing plant.


Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,