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Minneapolis: Community groups call on pollution control agency to shut down Smith Foundry

By Steff Yorek

Minneapolis, MN – In an action against industrial pollution, the Climate Justice Committee and its allies in the Shut Down Smith Coalition confronted the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Thursday, February 29. The coalition also presented the MPCA with a petition demanding the closure of Smith Foundry, a symbol of environmental injustice that casts a shadow over the East Phillips neighborhood.

The petition challenges the MPCA's recent assertion that Smith Foundry's emissions fall within permissible limits. Evan Mulholland, from the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy said, “Not only is this permit wildly out of date, but the bounds of the permit are inadequate if it sets no maximum for lead emissions.”

Mulholland continued, “The MPCA only tested the baghouses, which is only one avenue for pollution to leave the foundry, and what we learned is that it is emitting lead; that’s after it’s all filtered, it’s still emitting lead. On top of the lead, there may be lots of other toxic substances in the fine particulate matter, which haven’t been tested for.”

The community's distrust in the MPCA runs deep. Jolene Jones, a resident of the nearby Little Earth native-preference housing complex, said, “They don't listen to this community. When we said last summer we couldn't breathe, that there were black clouds over Little Earth – nobody listened to us. No one has listened to us for the last 20 years.”

Tania Rivera said, “The Pollution Control Agency has clearly not been holding our best interests at heart – it’s not just me, it’s 80 kids that I take care of, it’s 160 families.” She asked rhetorically, “Why is it always East Phillips?” These stories reveal a broader narrative of systemic disregard for oppressed communities, where industrial operations leave a toxic legacy unchecked by regulatory bodies.

Tracy Molm of the Climate Justice Committee added, “This action transcends the call for the shutdown of a single foundry. It embodies a fight for environmental justice, challenging the systemic inequities that allow such conditions to persist. This press conference is not just a procedural step. It's a rallying cry for change, a demand for accountability, and a testament to the power of community advocacy in the face of environmental neglect.”

#MinneapolisMN #Environment #EnvironmentalJustice #SmithFoundry #MNCJC