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Court To Hear Minnesota Asbestos Case Today

November 29, 2007

St. Paul, MN - A federal court in Minnesota hears arguments today against a state mining company's bid to overturn a pollution standard that has been in place for three decades. Attorney Kevin Reuther, who represents the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, will argue against the request.

"Northshore Mining is asking the court to eliminate the provision in its permit that sets a cap on its asbestos emissions -- and these emissions, we know, cause lung cancer."

The Silver Bay-based company says the requirement is based on outdated air standards, but those who disagree and are arguing against lifting the restrictions include the Minnesota Attorney General's office, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the State of Wisconsin. Reuther says the health issues impact more than just the local community.

"The residents of Silver Bay, the kids that go outside for recess, people who go to the North Shore to recreate, they're inhaling these asbestos fibers. It's an important public health issue and it's vital that our mining companies realize we expect them to be responsible corporate citizens."

The asbestos emission restrictions were part of a 1978 court ruling involving the previous owner, Reserve Mining. The requirement was passed along when Northshore bought the company. Northshore now wants the court to eliminate the existing requirement on air asbestos levels in Silver Bay, home of its taconite plant.

Jim Wishner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MN