Judge extends Water Gremlin shutdown for another 24 hours

Water Gremlin in White Bear Township, Minn. (FOX 9)

After hearing from both sides, a Ramsey County judge decided Thursday to extend the shutdown at Water Gremlin in White Bear Township, Minnesota for another 24 hours. 

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry issued a temporary shutdown order for Water Gremlin on Monday after more than a dozen children whose parents worked at the plant tested positive for high lead levels.

Water Gremlin makes lead fishing sinkers and battery terminals and now the state is demanding the company make immediate changes to ensure sure workers are not carrying home lead dust. 

At Thursday’s hearing, state labor and health officials asked the judge to extend their 72-hour shut down order. 

“We did not come to this lightly, but we were compelled to act in order to ensure the workers’ families and their children in particular are protected from these lead hazards,” Dan Huff of the Minnesota Department of Health said earlier this week. 

However, many Water Gremlin employees say they want the plant to reopen immediately, claiming it is safe and they need their jobs. 

In his ruling, Judge Leonardo Castro said he wants the state and Water Gremlin to come to an agreement on the first phase of lead safety improvements at the plant.

A follow-up hearing will take place Friday at 11:30 a.m. If the judge likes what he sees, Water Gremlin will be allowed to reopen in a limited capacity over the weekend. 

Help is available for the Water Gremlin workers. The state is providing employment services and information sessions and the health department is offering free lead testing. Officials say about 100 people have had their blood tested this week. 

This is just the latest controversy for Water Gremlin. The company has also been under fire recently for allegedly releasing toxic chemicals in the air and the ground.