Judge: Northern Metal can continue operations in Minneapolis during MPCA dispute

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A judge ruled Monday that Minneapolis-based Northern Metal Recycling can continue to operate while it goes through a dispute resolution with the MPCA after the agency found the company had been polluting the air.

Earlier this month, the MPCA announced it would not grant the company’s request to extend the shutdown date for its shredding operations to Oct. 1.

In 2017, Northern Metals agreed to cease shredding at the Minneapolis facility by Aug. 1, 2019 as well as pay a $1 million penalty, pay for three years of air monitoring and provide $600,000 to the city of Minneapolis for community health projects.

“The MPCA made a commitment to the residents of North Minneapolis more than two years ago that Northern Metal’s shredding operation would move out of the city to improve the air quality in the neighborhood,” said MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop in a release earlier this month. “That’s a commitment the MPCA intends to keep. The company agreed to this date and had more than two years to make it happen.”

In June, just six weeks before the deadline, Northern Metal told the MPCA it would not meet the requirements and requested the two-month extension. The company cited weather-related issues and the lack of sewer and water connections from the city of Becker, their new home.

The MPCA, however, said those delays in Becker had no bearing on the company’s ability to meet the shutdown deadline.

Northern Metals Recycling’s place in Minneapolis first came into question in 2014 when the MPCA began monitoring air quality near the facility at 2800 North Pacific Street.

The data showed exceedances of the state standard for particulate matter, which has been associated with risk of heart attacks, bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory issues for those that inhale them.

Analysis showed that, while the company was not the sole polluter in Minneapolis, that it was a “significant source,” according to the MPCA.

The process to revoke Northern Metals’ permit began in 2015.

Here is a statement from MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop: 

I understand that this turn of events will be extremely frustrating to people who live near Northern Metals and who have worked hard over many years to make their voices heard about this issue. I am frustrated, too. But I am also committed to maintaining an open and transparent line of communication with you as this process unfolds. As additional details become available, we will provide the community an update.

Here is astatement from Scott Helberg, COO, Northern Metal Recycling:

Northern Metal Recycling is pleased with the guidance from the court.  

We look forward to completing the construction of our new, state of the art recycling facility in Becker which will employ 85 Minnesotans. As we continue to work closely with the City of Becker to obtain all necessary utilities, we are excited about the future.