EPA reverses Mesabi Nugget water quality variance

By KBJR News 1

EPA reverses Mesabi Nugget water quality variance

July 10, 2014 Updated Jul 10, 2014 at 10:00 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reversed a decision that would have given an iron pellet facility more time to comply with water quality laws.

In 2012, Mesabi Nugget, based in Hoyt Lakes, got the green light to exceed four different water pollutants until 2021.

Then environmental and tribal groups sued the EPA over the decision.

In a letter this week, the EPA told the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that it didn't justify the time period for Mesabi Nuggets variance, saying more details are needed.

MPCA leaders are looking over the documents to better understand them.

The EPAs decision doesn't not have an immediate effect on Mesabi Nugget's permit to operate.

"We feel strongly that they are making progress to actually meet the conditions of the permit that require them to meet these standards, so at this point we're not changing the permit," Katrina Kessler, leader of the MPCA water assessment section.

Mesabi Nugget is required to actively investigate and implement treatment technologies to meet water quality standards.

A Mesabi Nugget spokesperson says the company is studying the documents issued by that EPA, to determine its next steps should they choose to file a new variance.