November 1, 2019
Joint statement on Ramsey County Court ruling regarding Water Gremlin
The Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, and St. Paul – Ramsey County Public Health issued this statement today regarding the ruling issued by Ramsey County District Court with regard to Water Gremlin, of White Bear Township.
The Ramsey County Court judge today continued a temporary suspension of industrial operations involving lead at Water Gremlin and has ordered the company to implement a first phase of prevention measures to address the serious health concerns we raised.
Water Gremlin is to implement a set of immediate safety and health measures before reopening its facility on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
We appreciate the court’s action to begin the process of ensuring that Water Gremlin employees and their children are safe from lead poisoning. These first steps by Water Gremlin are important – but not sufficient – and, as the court made clear, will need to be followed by more permanent solutions.
We were also pleased the court made clear it would readily cease operations at the facility again if Water Gremlin was not diligent in complying with the court’s order today and its orders in the future.
As a result of our agencies efforts, progress has been made in addressing these serious health concerns and more work is still needed.
Our priority during the coming days will be to effectively monitor Water Gremlin’s implementation of the Court’s Order and be certain Water Gremlin management and consultants understand clearly what must be done to resume operations safely.
We will return to court on Nov. 6 to report on Water’s Gremlin’s progress made and outline steps for a permanent solution.
We will continue to reach out to employees to ensure that they have information about health impacts and how to ensure their safety and the safety of the families. In addition, MDH will work with St. Paul – Ramsey County Public Health and other local public health departments to closely monitor children’s blood lead levels and follow up with families of those children found to have elevated blood lead levels.
MDH and DLI filed the court petition because workers’ children faced significant risk. Lead poisoning can cause learning, behavior and health problems in children. Lead exposure before or during pregnancy has been linked to miscarriages, premature births and stillbirths. High blood lead levels in children can be difficult to detect and can cause harm to children’s nervous systems and brains. That is why it is important to have children tested, even if they seem healthy. High blood levels do not cause fevers, and there might not be other symptoms. We encourage current and former Water Gremlin workers to take advantage of the free lead testing and other resources we are offering to help them address this issue.
Doug Schultz, MDH Communications
James Honerman, DLI Communications
John Siqveland, Ramsey County Communications