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Explosion at recycling plant with bad rep results in fire

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An explosion at a metal recycling plant in North Minneapolis started a fire on Friday afternoon.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has recently been trying to shut down the plant for violating state and federal air quality laws.

Northern Metal Recycling employees told firefighters on Friday that the explosion was in a processing hopper, which caused a flash fire through the roof stack, said KSTP.

According to the Pioneer Press, it took about 35 firefighters three hours to put out the fire.

The building suffered some structural damage, but there were no injuries, reported KARE11. The cause of the explosion and fire are still under investigation.

A polluted past

In March, the MPCA noted that there were higher levels of lead in the air in one part of North Minneapolis than anywhere else in the state, as well as high and unhealthy levels of chromium, cobalt and nickel.

By May, the agency had pinpointed the pollution on Northern Metals Recycling and began taking legal steps to revoke its permit. They claimed that the company was not honest on its air quality permit application in 2012, or changed its emissions sources without informing the agency (or possibly both).

It wouldn't be the first time that the plant was in trouble with the MPCA. In 2010, they were fined $15,000 for mercury levels that exceeded state emission standards, according to MinnPost.

The outlet also explained that a Ramsey County judge previously declined to temporarily shut down the plant at a hearing on June 9. Therefore, Northern Metals Recycling is in the middle of a 90 day period waiting for the judge to rule if the plant should stay open or not.

Residents in the neighborhood also started this petition in June pushing for the closure of the plant.

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