Northern Metals will move its shredder from Minneapolis after air quality concerns

It's one of the largest settlements in MPCA history.
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Northern Metals will move its shredder out of Minneapolis as part of a settlement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The MPCA has been trying to shut down the facility and revoke Northern Metals' permit for the past year. The agency accused the metal recycling company of repeatedly violating state air quality standards, noting its metal shredder contributed to increased air pollution in the north Minneapolis neighborhood. Air pollution is known to cause health problems.

"This settlement is a welcome start to addressing a problem for residents in north Minneapolis who are already overburdened with health and pollution issues," MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine said in a news release Friday. "The company recognized the serious nature of its violations, and they’ve chosen to take the right steps."

As part of the settlement, Northern Metals has agreed to move its shredder from Minneapolis to a non-metro location by August 2019 and pay $2.5 million in costs and penalties, marking one of the largest settlements every for the MPCA.

Of the settlement money, $600,000 will go to the City of Minneapolis for community health projects, which will "address and mitigate asthma and lead poisoning in the neighborhoods that have some of the highest child lead-poisoning rates in our city and the highest asthma hospitalization rate in our state," Mayor Betsy Hodges says.

“This settlement provides a measure of environmental justice for the people of north Minneapolis," Hodges said.

The shredder is moving to Becker

Northern Metals, which has several locations across Minnesota, plans to move its shredder to an industrial site in Becker as part of the company's expansion, according to WJON.

This new facility is expected to create 85 new jobs in the city, the publication says.

The Star Tribune says Becker has been trying to get Northern Metals to open a facility there for about a year, and in a statement Friday City Manager Greg Pruszinske said they "are very pleased" the company is bringing jobs and investments to the area.

More details on the settlement

Northern Metals will still be able to operate is shredder in north Minneapolis ahead of the August 2019 deadline, but the settlement includes operating conditions so Northern Metals stays in compliance with air quality standards. And Stine says they'll be "closely watching over their operation."

The settlement also makes the shutdown of Northern Metals' metal recovery plant (MRP) permanent, the MPCA says. Last August, a judge ordered the plant be be idled over air quality concerns.

The settlement has been submitted to the Ramsey County District Court for final approval.

You can read the entire settlement and all the other details related to the MPCA's North Minneapolis Air Quality Monitoring Project online here.

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