Minnesota Ceiling Tile Plant Penalized for Air Quality Permit Violations

USG Interiors self-reported that between July 2014 and October 2016, it violated its air quality permits for emissions exceedances or missed equipment testing 32 times.

A northeastern Minnesota ceiling tile-making facility's nearly three dozen air quality permit violations have resulted in increased pollution and an enforcement action, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced this month.

USG Interiors, LLC, manufactures acoustical ceiling tiles in Cloquet, Minn. The tile-making process requires an air quality permit limiting nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter, as these air pollutants can contribute to respiratory and cardiovascular illness in humans. Nitrous oxide is also the main contributor to ground-level ozone and can cause visibility issues.

USG Interiors self-reported that between July 2014 and October 2016, it violated its air quality permits for emissions exceedances or missed equipment testing 32 times. The company agreed to pay a penalty of $59,500 and completed three compliance actions for future equipment performance testing, including an MPCA-approved compliance and testing plan.

The stipulation agreement is one of the ways MPCA achieves compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, MPCA considers the seriousness of the environmental impact of the violation, whether it was a first-time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities.

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