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. MPCA conducted air monitoring during the fire, which burned for several days, and on Feb. 21 issued an administrative order regarding cleanup of the site.
- Northern Metals, LLC: Administrative Order (March 24, 2020)
- Northern Metals, LLC: Administrative Order (Feb. 21, 2020)
In early March 2020, 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.
The administrative order requires Northern Metal to properly handle and dispose of ash and burned materials.
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, air monitoring for VOC and metals was discontinued.
The Minnesota Department of Health has information about the Becker fire on their web site: Northern Metals Fire in Becker, Minn.