Northern Metal Becker facility to remain shut down after court decision on Friday

Firefighters work to control the fire at the Northern Metals recycling plant in Becker, Minnesota. (Bill Keller / FOX 9 / FOX 9)

After a massive fire broke out at the Northern Metals facility in Becker, Minnesota, sending plumes of black smoke and large flames shooting into the air for days, attorneys for the company appeared in court on Friday.

Lawyers were in Ramsey County Court, arguing the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency went too far in shutting down the company.

Friday, Chief Judge John Guthmann upheld the MPCA's emergency order, which shut down the Becker facility last Friday. They are not allowed to start shredding and they are not allowed to bring on scrap until they can figure out the best way to clean up the site.

Attorneys for the state continue to be concerned about air and water quality issues, pointing out in Ramsey County Court that not all the facts are in on the issues caused by the fire.

Late Thursday, days after the fire was finally extinguished, tests found stormwater is showing hazardous material. Toluene was detected near the high school. To that, the attorney for Northern Metal argues "PCA testing of stormwater doesn't mean it's connected to the fire."

While the Becker facility will stay closed, the judge is allowing Northern Metal to continue to accept and store scrap metals in Minneapolis, a city that holds the authority to shut things down if they determine the facility is not safe.

Evan Mulholland with Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy represents a group from north Minneapolis that has battled Northern Metal for years.

"What we need, we need the City of Minneapolis to step up," said Mulholland. "If there is a fire code violation and heightened risk of fire because of the height of the scrap metal, that needs to come down."