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'Imminent danger': Minnesota shuts down Becker recycling facility after fire

A roaring fire at Northern Metal Recycling began Tuesday.

Citing "imminent and substantial danger to the health and welfare" to the public, State authorities have ordered the shut down of Northern Metal Recycling in Becker. 

The recycling facility is the site of a massive burning pile of vehicles that has been on fire since early Tuesday, sending a plume of smoke into the air so large that it could be seen on satellite imagery, as shown here by NOAA

The administrative order from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has banned Northern Metal Recycling from receiving any additional scrap metal in Becker and at its previous home in north Minneapolis, where vehicles are still stored. 

Specifically, the business must cease operations "until the fire is eliminated, environmental assessments are completed, and plans are put in place to prevent similar threats to human health and safety," the order says. 

According to KARE 11, Gov. Tim Walz is mulling the idea of placing the company on a 30-day hold until requirements are met, adding that he doesn't trust the company to "do the right thing." 

The fire erupted in a pile of junked vehicles early Tuesday morning and roared for two days before state officials decided to let the fire burn itself out while keeping fire crews at the scene to combat any possible spread to nearby buildings and other scrap heaps. 

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Air samples have been tested in the area and results from the MPCA that were examined by the Minnesota Department of Health turned up nothing unusual. 

Further tests to determine if any lead was released into the air will be available later Friday. 

Once the emergency phase of the fire operation is over, the focus will switch to determining if there are any environmental impacts surface waters, ground water and soil. 

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