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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Winona firm agrees to correct air quality violations

ColorWare in Winona, a business that custom paints devices such as laptops and mobile phones, is working to correct air quality violations under a recent agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). 

From 2005-2011, ColorWare built and operated four paint booths, which can emit several tons of air pollutants a year, without state permits that set controls to protect air quality. The MPCA discovered the lack of permits during a review in 2013.

The company has agreed to pay a $70,000 penalty and has complied with permitting and recordkeeping requirements. It is working to meet the permit limits on emissions of air pollutants.
Federal and state laws require permits to ensure controls to protect air quality for human and environmental health. Paint booths can produce:
  • Volatile organic compounds – through a chemical reaction, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides can create ozone, or smog, which can harm human health.
  • Particulate matter – particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Particles can be suspended in the air for long periods of time.
  • Hazardous air pollutants – defined by a list of chemicals that are known or suspected of causing cancer or other serious health effects.

Permits also require air monitoring to show that facilities are complying with their permit's emission limits.

The penalty and conditions are part of a stipulation agreement between ColorWare and the MPCA. This type of agreement is one of the tools the agency uses to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it was a first-time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

To learn more about air quality, visit the MPCA website at www.pca.state.mn.us and click on the "air" tab.

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