Red Dust Marks Keewatin, Homeowners Speak Out

By KBJR News 1

January 10, 2012 Updated Jan 10, 2012 at 11:14 PM CDT

KEEWATIN, MN (Northland's NewsCenter)---Red dust from Magnetation's mineral processing operation near Keewatin has left its mark on many area properties.

Frustrated homeowners filled a town hall meeting to capacity Tuesday night; a show of people who wanted to prove the severity of the dust problem.

Keewatin homeowners say the red dust is everywhere.

It covers homes and cars and seeps into lawns and gardens and it won't just wash away.

Many have hired professional cleaning services and say damage estimates have totaled thousands of dollars.

"Its like a sandy feeling when you touch it and you can't really wash it," Helen Grahek, a Keewatin homeowner said. "It smears when you put water on it."

"I've power washed my house twice and it still is dirty," Ed Mota, a Keewatin homeowner said. "And once you finish power washing it, it's streaky."

On top of health concerns and decreasing property values, some homeowners brought up the idea of pursuing a lawsuit against Magnetation if the dust problem doesn't stop.

In response, Mayor Bill King assured the crowd, Magnetation has been working with the Pollution Control Agency to control the dust.

Both short and long term plans are underway.

"I do know they are working on it," Mayor King said. "That I know. There is no doubt. The representative called me at least once or twice a month you know for the whole year in 2011."

Magnetation is applying $100,000 worth of bio-degradable dust control agents on its site.

Three additional water trucks and seeding and mulching equipment have also been purchased.

The company is also looking to build additional access roads to control dust lift conditions.

Magnetation has agreed to meet with a small group of citizens on its plant site, to prove progress is underway.

The pollution control agent Magnetation is using to hold the dust down is made of Magnesium Chloride. The agent is also used to de-ice driveways and roads in the winter.

Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch