Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

Environmental group Clean Water and Air LLC sues Bluefin Bay over Lake Superior pollution

Feb 15, 2022 12:53PM ● By Editor

Photo:  TripAdvisor

By Guy DeMarco from Law Street - February 15, 2022

Clean Water and Air, LLC, filed a complaint accusing Tofte Wastwater Treatment Association (aka Bluefin Bay) of past and ongoing violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), including the continued pollution of Minnesota’s Lake Superior with “mercury, fecal matter, coliform, and suspended solids.” The complaint references the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), alleging Bluefin Bay has been in violation of its CWA permit for 312 days since November 2018, has failed to comply with the CWA permit 7 out of 12 quarters, and is still in violation of its CWA permit.

Clean Water and Air, LLC, is an organization formed for the purpose of advocating for clean water and air, and the preservation of natural resources. Bluefin Bay is located on the north shore of Minnesota’s Lake Superior and discharges wastewater directly into the lake.

Lake Superior contains a vast a diverse ecosystem; the lake is also a community commodity that many citizens enjoy, the complaint said National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Bluefin Bay’s NPDES permit caps the number of allowable pollutants the defendant discharges into Lake Superior. However, the complaint alleges that Bluefin Bay has discharged wastewater—with pollutant levels that violate the defendant’s NPDES—into Lake Superior for years.

The complaint references a 60-day notice letter of intent to file suit under the federal CWA to the EPA which the plaintiff provided to the defendant on October 18th 2021. The complaint then details that the notice letter referenced the defendant’s discharge violations, and that the EPA records designate the defendant’s CWA compliance status as “Non compliant.” According to the complaint, the defendant then requested the state action of a “compliance agreement;” however, this “compliance agreement” was reached without the benefit of scrutiny by the plaintiff, nor address any of the violations identified in the 60-day notice letter.

The complaint accuses the defendant of four counts: violation of the CWA, public and private nuisance, and negligence.

The plaintiff’s action seeks the following relief: a declaration the Bluefin Bay violated and violates its CWA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, an order mandating Bluefin Bay’s compliance with the CWA and NPDES permit, an order assessing maximum penalties for each day Bluefin Bay has and continues to violate the aforementioned permits, and an award to the plaintiff covering costs of litigation and damages pursuant to the plaintiff’s nuisance and negligence claims.    The plaintiff is represented by Throndset Michenfelder, LLC.

A copy of the CWA lawsuit can be seen in the attached PDF.

To read the original article and see related stories, follow this link to the Law Street website.