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'This Is A Public Health Emergency': Wis. Company Cancels Contract With Water Gremlin After WCCO Investigation

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- WCCO's Jennifer Mayerle reported Monday night that a Minnesota company with a history of pollution violations found a way to operate in Wisconsin.

On Tuesday, the Hudson, Wisconsin-based company that agreed to operate for Water Gremlin has said it is working to terminate its relationship with the company, and it will not perform any processing work for the White Bear Township-based company. This is a result of our investigation.

Last week, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency ordered Water Gremlin -- which makes fishing sinkers and battery terminals -- to stop its coating process, which uses a toxic chemical. That same day, Mayerle tracked a semi-truck delivering equipment from Water Gremlin across the state line and into Hudson.

READ MORE: 'We Want Answers': Water Gremlin May Have Leaked Carcinogen In White Bear Township For Years

Hi-Tec Finishing had agreed to do the coating process for Water Gremlin, but late Tuesday afternoon, Hi-Tec's management says when they entered into the contract with Water Gremlin they were "unaware that the chemicals used to process the Water Gremlin products are alleged to be unsafe and unhealthy. Hi-Tec only became aware of this fact on August 26, 2019 after being advised by the local media."


The CEO says the company values its relationship with the city of Hudson and people who live there, and apologized for concerns it raised.

On Tuesday night, dozens of people gathered at a community meeting that involved MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop, in part to discuss the developments unearthed from WCCO's investigation -- and current pollution concerns in the area. Bishop said she's frustrated with the company, and will look at how states can better communicate.

Water Gremlin Community Meeting
Dozens gathered at the community meeting Tuesday night (credit: CBS)

"This company is, right now, has contracts out there they're trying to get their product out the door. That's not the way to put people at risk," Bishop said. "This is something that we should all be concerned about. Our Minnesota companies need to be held accountable."

Here at home, the community heard about the latest pollution violations WCCO has reported on. The finding of chemicals lead, the carcinogen TCE and DCE in the ground, water and air on Water Gremlin's property. You could feel their frustration.

"Mostly I just see a lot of inaction, and a lot of talk, but no answers," said Dennis Larson, who lives near Water Gremlin's plant.

People submitted questions with a common theme: Trusting Water Gremlin. Legislators said they're doing their part to help MPCA hold companies accountable.

"This is a public health emergency, not only affecting this area, but the whole state," said State Senator Chuck Wiger, (DFL) Maplewood. "We won't give up."

Water Gremlin told WCCO Tuesday that while they weren't asked to play an official role in Tuesday night's meeting, the company respects MPCA providing information to the community.

Mayerle did speak with Hudson's Mayor Rich O'Connor, who said he was delighted to learn Hi Tec now won't operate for Water Gremlin. And he said the company "did the right thing."

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