SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Use of the cancer-causing chemical trichloroethylene, more commonly known as TCE, would be banned for use in the state of Minnesota beginning January 1, 2022 thanks to legislation introduced by Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood) Thursday.
“We’ve seen the effects of what happens with exposure to TCE in my community, and the harmful effects it has on people’s health,” said Senator Wiger. “It’s absolutely the right thing to do to ban the use of this harmful, toxic chemical, and to prevent the further exposure of people to it. We came up short in 2019, but thanks to the advocacy of engaged citizens and state agencies, I believe my colleagues and I in the Legislature can get this done in 2020.”
The discussion around banning the use of TCE began with the discovery that the Water Gremlin plant was emitting levels of the pollutant that violated the state’s clean air permit since at least 2009. Water Gremlin was then required to pay a $4.5 million settlement and switch to use of an alternative, less toxic chemical for use.
Banning TCE use is one important step to protecting Minnesota’s air and water,” said Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Commissioner Laura Bishop. “This should be a priority this session, and I am thankful Senator Wiger and other legislative leaders are working hard to get the job done this year.”
Some of the strongest advocates for the ban on the use of TCE have come from the Neighborhood Concerned Citizens Group. The President of the group, Sherry Hastings, called the ban necessary to protect the health of Minnesotans.
“While the most recent attention regarding TCE has been on Water Gremlin exposing over 5,500 citizens for 15+ years of highly excessive toxic TCE air pollution in the White Bear area, TCE pollution has impacted many other communities,” said Hastings. “Communities like Fridley, Bayport, SE Como Minneapolis area, St. Louis Park, Edina, New Brighten, Arden Hills, Lake Elmo, St. Paul and West Lakeland Township all have dealt with the environmental and health impacts of TCE pollution in the air, water, ground and vapor intrusion for decades. This is not just a Twin Cities issue, TCE is impacting cities and citizens throughout Minnesota. We need to amplify our voices from every city and ban TCE.”
The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Jason Isaacson (DFL-Shoreview), Chris Eaton (DFL-Brooklyn Center), Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) and Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina), and supported by environmental groups throughout the state.
“Given the dangers of TCE and the numbers of communities already impacted, banning TCE must be a priority at the legislature this year,” said Conservation Minnesota Executive Director Paul Austin.
More information about the bill is available here.