Asbestos Lawsuits Against Mining Company to Proceed

A federal judge ruled yesterday that the Sierra Club and Save Lake Superior Association can pursue their lawsuit seeking federal court action upholding the air standard that compares asbestos fiber levels near Silver Bay to the air in St. Paul. The ruling is based on a decision made by Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) earlier this week which determined that mines should be held to the same standards as other industries when it comes to air quality.

According to a story in the Duluth News Tribune, the environmental groups sued the company alleging that violations of the control city air standard are a violation of the federal Environmental Protection Act and demanding that the court fine Northshore Mining.

Asbestos-like fibers have been found in the ore mined on the so-called Iron Range of Minnesota. The ore is processed into taconite by Northshore Mining Co. in Silver Bay. More than 30 years ago, the company was ordered to stop dumping taconite tailings into Lake Superior as it was created a serious environmental hazard.

Northshore Mining Co. is in the process of appealing a similar state court case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The case is seeking to remove the control city air standard from its state operating permits.

“The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency argues that the comparison with St. Paul air is needed because no other asbestos regulation is available to measure possible asbestos risk for Silver Bay area residents,” the article points out.

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