Senator Heather Gustafson Introduces Bill to Protect Workers from Lead Exposure

ST. PAUL, Minn. — On Thursday, March 14th, the Senate Labor Committee heard Senate File 4600, a bill authored by Senator Heather Gustafson (DFL-Vadnais Heights). The bill seeks to address concerns about lead exposure in the workplace. The bill reflects concerns with Water Gremlin, a manufacturer of battery terminals and lead fishing weights in White Bear Township, that has had persistent compliance and pollution issues that have been linked to serious health issues for workers and the surrounding community.

The bill would direct the Department of Labor and Industry, with consultation from the Department of Health, to undergo rulemaking to lower the acceptable blood lead levels which require mandatory removal of workers from lead exposure and lower the blood lead levels required before a worker is allowed to return to work.

There is no safe blood lead concentration,” said Sen. Gustafson. “In our community, Water Gremlin has been such a problematic neighbor. People are getting really sick and it is not too much to ask to decrease the acceptable blood lead levels for our workers. These are our families, this is where we live, this is where we raise our kids, and we need clean air, water, and soil so our community can thrive.”

“Water Gremlin failed by not following the protocols with lead migration,” said Water Gremlin whistleblower Steven Wurtz. “In the last OSHA investigation, the young gentlemen told me that their hands were tied and there are a lot of loopholes and gray areas because there is no specific number that the law requires for lead migration. The only way things can change is with a new law from the legislature.”
Senate File 4600 was referred to the State and Local Government and Veterans Committee. You can watch the bill presentation here.

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Senator Heather Gustafson represents Senate District 36 which includes Centerville, Circle Pines, Lino Lakes, North Oaks, Vadnais Heights, and White Bear Lake. She is vice chair of the Education Finance Committee, and serves on the Agriculture, Broadband, and Rural Development Committee and the Jobs and Economic Development Committee.

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