MPCA moves to close north Minneapolis recycling plant

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is moving to stop operations at a recycling plant in north Minneapolis they believe is responsible for the unhealthy levels of lead and heavy metals recorded in the air.

The MPCA said Northern Metal Recycling did not truthfully disclose the emissions from its facility, where it operates a metal shredder, when it applied for an air quality permit in 2012 and has since added new, unpermitted emissions sources.

The MPCA began monitoring the air quality in the neighborhoods near Northern Metal in 2014 and reportedly detected high levels of particles in the air immediately. In March, the agency announced it had recorded levels of high levels of lead in the air and levels of other metals such as nickel, chromium and cobalt that were above federal state and health guidelines.

The agency is taking legal action to close Northern Metal’s north Minneapolis facility and revoke their air quality permit. In the meantime, they have also filed a request for a temporary injunction. If the injunction is granted, Northern Metal would have to stop its metal shredding operations immediately.

In a statement, MPCA assistant commissioner David Thornton said closing a facility is and revoking their air quality permit is a “very rare step” for the agency. 

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