State tests more than 90 people for lead levels related to Water Gremlin ahead of court hearing

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

More than 90 people related to Water Gremlin have been tested for lead contamination during the company’s state-mandated 72-hour shutdown this week.

The Water Gremlin plant was shut down Monday after children of employees were found to have dangerously high lead levels in their blood.

Early Wednesday afternoon, the state completed 40 blood tests, but a flurry late in the day raised that number to close to 80. 19 people were tested the day before and 2 on Monday, according to the Department of Health. The results of the tests take four days.

At 9 a.m. Thursday, the Department of Labor and Industry is heading to Ramsey County District Court seeking to extend the 72-hour shutdown of Water Gremlin. FOX 9's cameras will be there to cover the event. 

Tuesday morning, a few dozen Water Gremlin employees joined together at the Minnesota State Capitol to urge officials to reopen their workplace.

Investigators determined that the employees’ children may have ingested “take-home lead,” which is lead dust that accumulates on their parents’ bodies, clothes, shoes and other personal items while they are working, making lead battery terminals and fishing sinkers, and is unknowingly brought home.

“You need to understand that it is Water Gremlin’s responsibility to ensure that their workplace is safe,” DLI Commissioner Nancy Leppink said. “That the work their workers are performing is safe. And that when workers go home at night, they don’t bring the hazards of work home with them.”

Water Gremlin released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

It is not true that:

  1. Water Gremlin has told its employees to not seek state benefits.
  2. Water Gremlin has told its employees to not cooperate with state regulators.
  3. Water Gremlin threatened repercussions to its employees who are working with the state to receive assistance.
  4. Water Gremlin employees are required to use vacation time to get compensated during the temporary shutdown.

Water Gremlin is proud to employ 340 Minnesotans, and we are working hard to ensure that their livelihoods are not impacted during this challenging time. We are working cooperatively with state agencies to protect and improve the health and safety of our employees and their families. We will continue our efforts to work with state and county officials to resolve concerns and get our employees back to work.