ROSEMOUNT, Minn. (WCCO) – Some people living in Rosemount are concerned about a metallic-smelling haze they say regularly shows up in their yards.

They live in an area with rural homes, small farms and industrial properties. Some fear the air is unsafe and want the state to investigate.

Jim Quist has lived in his Rosemount home for more than 30 years. He lives near Spectro Alloys Corporation, an aluminum smelting company. Quist is concerned about its emissions, saying he believes a foggy haze in the air is eating away at his house

“That is actually the aluminum starting to deteriorate after 30 years,” Quist said.

Quist says he has replaced his siding three times in 10 years because of the fast-fading color.

“The guys who come out and do the siding say we’ve been doing siding for 30 years, we’ve never seen this ever,” Quist said.

Quist thinks it’s because of a hazy fog in the air with a metallic taste coming from Spectro Alloys Corporation.

“You can’t be outside because it burns your eyes, it burns your nose,” Quist said.

“I started keeping a log on June 11 in ’99,” said Brenda Sugii, who lives nearby.

Sugii started keeping track of the hazy, foggy days decades ago.

“I got tired of waking up to a fog in my yard of thick smoke and being afraid to have my windows open, and I had small children,” Sugii said.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency confirms it has received several complaints against Spectro Alloys over the years – most recently in 2016 where the agency issued a $125,000 penalty for waste and stormwater violations. The MPCA says it is actively investigating new complaints.

“Any complaint we receive from any resident is a concern,” Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste said.

Droste says the city relies on the MPCA to enforce emissions standards.

“It’s hard to say when you see steam or is it an element that is concerning. I’m not a chemist,” Droste said.

Spectro Alloys says steam from its plant can have a smell when carried by the wind, but it complies with strict permits and testing. The company says it is zoned for industrial and there is no pending enforcement action from the MPCA.

“It’s very frustrating,” Quist said.

The MPCA says it will release its findings at the end of its investigation into neighbor complaints.

Initial Spectro Alloys Corporation statement:

“Core to our purpose is recycling for the environment, and the safety of employees and community is our top priority. We operate in an industrial zoned area, and Spectro has, and will continue to operate in full compliance with all regulations. The environmental impact of recycling at Spectro is extremely positive.”

Recycling aluminum at Spectro Alloys:

  • Uses 95% less energy than primary aluminum, enough energy to power over 200,000 homes
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking over 100,000 cars off the road

Initial MPCA statement:

“The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has received several complaints against Spectro Alloys over the years; most recently in 2016 where the MPCA issued a $125,000 penalty against the company. The MPCA is actively investigating new complaints and will report its findings once the investigation is completed.”

Erin Hassanzadeh

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