Co-Operative Plating, 1605 Iglehart Ave., is currently seeking the renewal of its air emissions permit, with a public comment period ending August 25. The company also obtained City Council approval on August 3 to vacate a small section of Iglehart Avenue as part of its plans to expand its plant and off-street parking.

The permit, which is overseen by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), limits the amount of air pollution the company’s plant can release. The MPCA is recommending that the permit be renewed, but will not make a final decision until after the comment period has ended.

The Union Park District Council (UPDC) is looking at how its executive committee can weigh in on the permit, and its land use committee on potential company expansion plans. Discussion of the permit renewal and expansion began several months ago with representatives of Co-Op Plating and the MPCA, as well as neighbors and the UPDC.

Co-Op Plating operates 18 separate metal plating lines. The plant receives parts made by other companies, coats them and ships them back. Cadmium, zinc, copper, nickel and other metals are used in the plating process.

Years ago Co-Op Plating had a history of environmental violations, which angered neighbors. In 1991, then-Ward 4 City Council member Paula Maccabee blocked the company’s request to vacate part of Iglehart and expand the facility.

The company has since made many changes, including entering into a voluntary compliance program with the MPCA, adding a scrubbing system to control emissions and dropping the use of some chemicals.

MPCA records show improved operations in recent years, although there have been two accidental emissions in the past year. One occurred in October 2021 when scrubbing equipment for rooftop emissions was cleaned with a bleach solution.

 

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Co-Op Plating did not return calls seeking comment for this article.

Years ago Co-Op Plating had a history of environmental violations, which angered neighbors. In 1991, then-Ward 4 City Council member Paula Maccabee blocked the company’s request to vacate part of Iglehart and expand the facility.

In May, company president Dave Birkemeier and senior engineer Ed Wakefield gave the UPDC’s Environment and Parks Committee an update. Wakefield described the ways the company controls emissions, including an interior system to regulate air pressure. Two large rooftop fans also are meant to control and more safely disperse emissions.

The company’s emissions are now monitored by an independent third party, with input from the MPCA and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Co-Op representatives told the committee that they do not use trichlorethylene and so-called “forever chemicals” perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl. Those synthetic chemicals are found in many products and have been linked to health problems.

The plant’s expansion is being discussed with city officials, but no formal plans have been presented. Company representatives have told the UPDC that they want to expand the plant by 5,000-6,000 square feet and add off-street parking. Company officials have looked at the Iglehart property as well as a commercial building by the plant on Carroll Avenue to the north.

It is unclear where the parking or building extension would go. The street vacation and purchase of Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) land was sought by the company owners, the Rosenblum Family Limited Partnership. The street area to be vacated is located east of the Canadian Pacific Railroad tracks.

The UPDC board, committee members and staff said they were not aware of the street vacation request. Ward 4 City Council member Mitra Jalali said she had not heard any concerns about the issue. No one appeared at a public hearing prior to the vote on the street vacation.

The street vacation and related action affect a small triangle of property including Iglehart and land to its south. MnDOT for many years has owned land adjacent to the section of vacated Iglehart. MnDOT is conveying that land to the city, which will in turn sell it to the plant owners. The owners have agreed to pay just compensation for the parcel, as determined by a valuation performed by the city’s real estate section.

Anyone can comment on Co-Operative Plating’s air emissions permit by visiting  tinyurl.com/3hpbfady.

— Jane McClure

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