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Suzlon fined $490,000 for pollution violations

PIPESTONE -- In a court settlement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Suzlon Rotor Corp. has agreed to resolve air quality, hazardous waste, solid waste and stormwater violations at its wind turbine blade manufacturing plant in Pipestone.

Under the terms of the consent decree, entered July 7 in Pipestone County District Court, Suzlon has completed corrective actions, and will pay a civil penalty of $490,000.

A 2009 MPCA inspection revealed sandblasting operations far exceeded emissions standards for airborne particles.

In addition, the company failed to evaluate waste for hazardous substances, or properly manage its hazardous waste.

Other hazardous waste violations included improper disposal of lead-containing damaged turbine blades in a landfill.

The lead has been recovered from the landfill.

The company did not have an air quality permit authorizing it to conduct sandblasting.

It sandblasted without using air emission control equipment, and stored waste sandblast material outdoors in uncovered piles.

Suzlon also installed a fourth blade-production line without the necessary air emissions permit; and it stored waste material outside, where it was exposed to stormwater.

Suzlon did not receive a required industrial stormwater permit to do so.

The company is required to cease sandblasting, evaluate hazardous wastes, obtain necessary permits, properly dispose of waste lead and prepare a stormwater pollution-prevention plan.

In 2008, Suzlon paid a $19,000 penalty for alleged violations of air quality regulations when it failed to obtain an air quality permit prior to construction and operation of the Pipestone facility.

That settlement included an agreement to obtain required permits before conducting new activities that required permits.

When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities.

It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.