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

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Northern Metal Recycling is being ordered to idle part of its North Minneapolis operations over air quality concerns in the area.

Ramsey County District Court Judge John Guthmann issued the order Monday, requiring the company to shut down its metals recovery plant and attached rain and snow shed – known together as MRP – starting Friday, according to a news release from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

The company isn't allowed to operate MRP until Northern Metals proves it doesn't cause or contribute to the ongoing air quality violations in the area, or until the MPCA issues a modified air permit for the facility.

"We believe that Northern Metals is a significant contributor to the ongoing air violations in North Minneapolis and the court’s decision is a great step forward for the people living in those neighborhoods," David Thornton, assistant commissioner for air quality issues at the MPCA, said in the news release. "While Northern Metals has made improvements to its facility, we expect them to respect the law and comply with the judge’s order.”

The judge's order comes a few months after the MPCA began taking legal steps to revoke Northern Metals' air quality permit after it found there were higher levels of pollutants in the air near the plant.

The agency linked the higher particulate emissions to Northern Metals' metal shredder, claiming the company wasn't honest when it applied for the permit back in 2012; it "repeatedly violated" state air quality standards since 2014; and it made changes to its facility that increased emissions without getting the MPCA's approval.

John Linc Stine, the commissioner of the MPCA, said in the news release Tuesday the agency is pleased with the judge's decision, but notes they are still "reviewing the order to understand all the details."

The MPCA says Northern Metals has requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge – a ruling on that is expected this fall.

BringMeTheNews has reached out to Northern Metals for comment on the judge's order.

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