MINNEAPOLIS — A community clashed with regulators — and the owners of a factory accused of polluting the air — during a meeting Monday night.
It focused on violations the Environmental Protection Agency discovered at Smith Foundry in south Minneapolis during a surprise spring inspection.
People living near the facility want it shut down, while the foundry's president said it wants to be a good neighbor.
Community outrage surrounding pollution violations at Smith Foundry was apparent at the vocal standing room only meeting in the East Phillips neighborhood.
There was criticism over what people called Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's inaction.
"Why did you fail to show up and inspect the foundry for last 5 years?" Evan Mulholland with Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy asked.
There were also people calling for the commissioner to step down.
MPCA said it can't replicate the EPA's calculations — to the ire of the community — who felt their health concerns are being dismissed.
"I am sorry that it is how it feels, that is not my intent," commissioner Katrina Kessler said.
While the EPA says it stands by its report, a representative said it can't share specific details of the investigation into Smith Foundry's repeated violations of the Clean Air Act.
"I know that's frustrating. Ensuring confidentiality, ensuring we can do what we need to do is important," Brian Dickens with EPA said.
Ahead of the meeting, only WCCO cameras captured Smith Foundry in operation as it melts, then casts iron.
Its president Adolfo Quiroga says it's all a misunderstanding.
"We are meeting the permit that we have and the tests will prove it," Quiroga said.
When Quiroga was asked if he was confident that Smith Foundry was not polluting the air, Quiroga said "I am absolutely confident."
Quiroga sat through the community meeting, at the end saying "We are committed to being a good neighbor."
He heard the overarching message from the meeting.
"We will help you move. We don't want you here. Shut it down," people at the meeting said.
There is a virtual meeting Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. if you missed Monday's.
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