MPCA denies Northern Metal Recycling’s extension to continue operating its shredder in Minneapolis

Contact: Alexis Donath, 651-757-2312

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today announced it will not grant Northern Metal Recycling’s request to extend the shut-down date for its shredding operations in North Minneapolis to Oct. 1, 2019.  The metal recycler had agreed in a Feb. 28, 2017, court settlement to cease shredding at the Minneapolis facility by Aug. 1, 2019.

“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. “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.”

Northern Metal Recycling informed the MPCA on June 18, 2019, six weeks from its deadline, that it would not meet the requirements in its settlement agreement. The company requested a two-month extension citing weather-related issues and the lack of sewer and water connections from the city of Becker. The MPCA determined that the delays at the Becker facility had no bearing on the company’s ability to meet the shut-down deadline. 

The MPCA’s denial means Northern Metals will have to cease metal shredding operations in Minneapolis on Aug. 1.

“Northern Metal Recycling’s new facility in Becker gives the community new jobs and economic development opportunities,” continued Bishop. “We want Northern Metal to be successful in Becker, and get its facility operational as soon as possible.”

In 2014, the MPCA began monitoring air quality near the facility, located at 2800 North Pacific Street in Minneapolis. The monitoring revealed multiple exceedances of a state standard for particulate matter. Inhaling high concentrations of particulate matter has been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, acute and chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks, and other respiratory issues. Analysis of 2015 air quality data also showed elevated levels of lead, chromium, cobalt, and nickel in the air around the facility. MPCA concluded that while Northern Metal Recycling was not the sole source of air pollutants in North Minneapolis, it believed the company was a significant source.

In 2015, the MPCA began the process to revoke Northern Metal Recycling’s operating permit after determining the company had not provided accurate information in its permit application or in response to MPCA requests for information.  On Feb. 28, 2017, the company agreed to move their metal shredder to a non-metro location by Aug. 1, 2019, pay a $1 million penalty, pay for three years of continued air monitoring, and provide $600,000 to the city of Minneapolis for community health projects.