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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Environmental advocates claim win in taconite case

The Minnesota Court of Appeals yesterday upheld the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's denial of an application by Northshore Mining Co. to relax an air quality standard at its taconite plant in Silver Bay.

That standard, known as a control-city standard, states that asbestos levels in the air in Silver Bay can't be any higher than those normally found in a control city, which in this case is St. Paul.

A federal judge in December also let the standard stand in the face of an appeal by Northshore.

The court wrote that processing the ore used at the Silver Bay plant "results in the release of asbestos fibers that may be dangerous to human health," the appeals court wrote in its decision. Northshore insisted that the mineral released is not the same thing as asbestos fibers. The court also said the Northshore was trying to "eliminate a substantive monitoring requirement" and that the company had failed to demonstrate that the control-city standard is obsolete.

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