Northern Metal Recycling scores partial victory in court ruling

They can now resume operations at their Minneapolis plant.
Publish date:
Northern Metal Recycling

The company that was ordered to cease operations over the aggressive days-long industrial fire in Becker, Minnesota, has scored a victory in court.

On Friday, a Ramsey County District Court judge reversed an order by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to shut down a Minneapolis scrap metal plant operated by Northern Metal Recycling. 

However, the MPCA's order to close the company's Becker plant — where a fire broke out amid a massive pile of junked cars last Tuesday — still stands. 

The Becker fire was so intense that it sent a plume of smoke into the air large enough to be seen by satellite, as shown here by the NOAA:

The MPCA cited "imminent and substantial danger to the health and welfare" of the public in issuing its decision last week, saying Northern Metal must halt 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." 

But Friday's court ruling called the agency's order "hypothetical," with Judge John Guthmann saying "there isn’t any claim that there is pollution of air, land or water" as a result of Northern Metal's operations "at this time," per the Star Tribune. 

The paper notes that Guthmann declined to rule on the closure of the Becker plant, as that was out of the court's jurisdiction. 

This is likely not the end of the legal battle, however. 

According to MPR, Minneapolis officials say the city is “exploring its options following this ruling," and that there will be an inspection of the plant's scrap metal piles on Monday. 

The station also notes that Northern Metals will have to turn to the state Court of Appeals to weigh in on the closure of its Becker site. 

The Becker fire, which is still being investigated, forced Becker Public Schools to close down, and led to reports of a burning smell across the Twin Cities metro. 

Northern Metal's Minneapolis recycling center was also the scene of a major fire in December 2016.

Next Up

Andrelton Simmons / Minnesota Twins

Twins sign Andrelton Simmons to one-year deal

The former Angels shortstop is a four-time Gold Glove winner.

covid, vaccine

Minnesotans eligible for COVID shots only need to pre-register once for vaccine lottery

This is good news for people worried that they'd need to sign up every week.

police lights

2 people charged in separate Minneapolis homicides that happened hours apart

A woman is accused of stabbing a man in the chest over $60, while a man is accused of accidentally shooting a victim on the man's birthday.

House for sale

Despite pandemic, Twin Cities housing market set records in 2020

Sales were up 7.7% in 2020 compared to the year before.

Target store inside

Target unveils 'limited-edition' home, lifestyle collection with Levi Strauss

The new collection will be available in some stores and everyone online Feb. 28.

Tim Walz

Walz's $52.4 billion budget increases school spending, raises taxes on wealthy

He says the budget will help level the playing field and ensure all Minnesotans have a fair shot at economic recovery,

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 12.55.00 PM

Pictures from Minnesota GOP's Deadwood retreat show no masks, no distancing

The pictures were shared in Chair Jennifer Carnahan's latest email newsletter.

Alexus Norberg

Search for girl, 14, missing from St. Cloud

The teen left her home without her parents' permission.

coronavirus, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, January 26

The health departments provided new data daily at 11 a.m.


Large fire ongoing at Northern Metals Recycling plant in Becker

The company was previously based in Minneapolis, but was forced to leave due to pollution levels.

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 12.43.10 PM

Regulator rejects plea to delay shutdown of polluting metal shredder

The shredder was found to be causing significant air quality problems in north Minneapolis.

Screen Shot 2020-02-21 at 3.47.50 PM

'Imminent danger': State shuts down Becker recycling facility

A roaring fire at Northern Metal Recycling began Tuesday.

Fire firefighters

Burning smell in the Twin Cities? It's probably the Becker recycling plant fire

The fire broke out in the early hours of the morning, and has sparked concerns over air quality.

Northern Metals fire (ok to use)

Huge fire in Becker 'could last several more days'

The fire is expected to become more intense as it burns itself out.

Northern Metals fire (ok to use)

'Major progress' made as Becker fire continues to burn

The blaze erupted in a pile of cars early Tuesday morning.


Federal court sides with MN couple who refuse to film same-sex weddings

The husband-and-wife videographers are attempting to sue the state.

Judge orders Northern Metals to idle some operations over air quality concerns

Northern Metal Recycling is being ordered to idle part of its North Minneapolis operations.