Northern Metal Recycling (Becker)

A major fire broke out at the Northern Metal Recycling facility in Becker in the early hours of Feb. 18, 2020. A plume of dense, black smoke caused concern about air quality among residents in a large area. The fire is out and MPCA conducted air monitoring.

The MPCA will continue to provide updates on this web page.

March 24, 2020

Northern Metal has completed a majority of the requirements in the MPCA’s February 21 Administrative Order.

In early March, MPCA staff inspected the Becker site and observed burned scrap metal feedstock, slag, significant ash and debris, as well as degradation to the concrete surface.

  • MPCA staff and MPCA’s contractor collected wastewater samples from both the north and south ponds, as well as samples from a sludge layer in the south pond and ash samples from around the yard.    
  • The results showed elevated levels of SVOCs and VOCs in the wastewater in both ponds on site, as well as elevated levels of total PCBs and total lead in the sludge in the south pond, and elevated levels of total chromium and total lead in the ash.

Today’s amended Administrative Order requires Northern Metal to properly handle and dispose of ash and burned materials.

  • Northern Metal is required to ensure the Facility does not release or has an ongoing release of pollutants
  • Northern Metal is prohibited from using wastewater form any of the ponds at the Facility until the water has been treated and approved for usage by the MPCA.

The amended Administrative Order also allows Northern Metal to start its shredder in Becker, as long as the company does not shred burned cars or debris.


The MPCA conducted air quality sampling on Thursday, Feb. 20, related to the Becker fire. The testing included volatile organic compounds (VOCs), metals, and particulate matter. Results showed nothing unusual in terms of the types and levels of VOCs found, and no metals were detected. Based on these results, VOC and metals sampling was discontinued. 

Real-time particulate monitoring starting Feb. 21 in and around Becker showed no particulate levels of concern, and particulate monitoring was discontinued on Friday March 6.  Assessment for potential environmental damage at the Becker site continues under the oversight of MPCA’s Compliance and Enforcement section.

The Minnesota Department of Health has information about the Becker fire on their web site: Northern Metals Fire in Becker, Minn.