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Jun 04, 2024

Press Release: EPNI, Little Earth Protectors, and MCEA Celebrate Smith Foundry Partial Victory





June 4, 2024


Sarah Horner, shorner@mncenter.org, 612-868-3024

Evan Mulholland, emulholland@mncenter.org, 603-219-5850

Darby Ottoson, darby@epnifarm.org, 952-542-6154 


EPNI, Little Earth Protectors, and MCEA Celebrate Smith Foundry Partial Victory

Call for immediate closure of furnace and casting operations

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI), Little Earth Protectors, and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) applaud the settlement announced today between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Smith Foundry, which will lead to a cessation of the factory’s furnace and casting operations and significantly reduce air pollution in the surrounding East Phillips neighborhood. 

The settlement allows a year for the factory to transition its operations to a metal finishing facility. The Shut Smith Coalition calls for the furnace, metal and pouring operations to be shut down immediately as the pollution from the casting operations remains uncontrolled and poses a daily risk to the community. 

The Coalition has been advocating for the closure of the polluting facility since the EPA first announced alleged Clean Air Violations at Smith Foundry back in November 2023. The community will rally in response to the news this evening at 5:30 pm outside the Foundry. 

“Today we celebrate community power and what we can accomplish when we come together with a common goal,” said Jolene Jones, founder of the Little Earth Protectors and enrolled member of the White Earth Nation. “Our residents deserve to enjoy their backyards, open their windows, and breathe the air in their neighborhood without pollution harming themselves and their loved ones.” 

“We are glad to see the company finally taking steps to fix things, but we deserve an apology from Zynik Capital and Smith Foundry for the years of harm and lies and lack of care for the community,” said Cassandra Holmes, Vice President of EPNI and enrolled member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe.

“This is an important win for the people of East Phillips and for environmental justice,” said Evan Mulholland, Director of Healthy Communities Program at MCEA. “That said, we should not have been in this situation where the Foundry operated for years out of compliance with pollution control regulations. Smith and other polluting facilities need to be held to account and, in this case, Smith should commit to shutting down its uncontrolled melting and pouring operation as soon as possible.”

Cast iron foundries like Smith are known to emit carcinogens and neurotoxins including cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, nickel, benzene, toluene, and dioxins. No testing for these airborne metal vapors, aerosols, and other chemicals has yet been performed at the Foundry’s roof vents, windows, or at the fenceline. 

Until now, both Smith Foundry and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency have avoided action to assess and control pollution from the melt furnace. 

Media are invited to attend this evening’s rally outside Smith Foundry at 5:30 p.m. for more community reaction and visual opportunities.