By Paul Ploumis
SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The Minneapolis City Council in its meeting held on Dec 9, 2016 has authorized the city attorney’s office to participate in settlement negotiations related to putting an end to the metal shredding operations of Northern Metal Recycling at 2800 Pacific St. The city can now join as a party in negotiations in connection with the County lawsuit and MCPA’s earlier action revoking the operating permit of the facility.
Earlier in August this year, the Ramsey County (Minnesota) District Court Judge John Guthmann ordered the scrap metal company to shut down part of its material recovery plant and an attached shed that is used to separate metals and nonmetallic fluff from the shredded material. The order had stated that the operations should remain closed until that time when Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) the state regulator issues a modified air permit for the facility or Northern Metals proves to the agency that emissions are strictly under control.
The court action followed the earlier petition filed by the state regulator seeking an injunction. The North Minneapolis shredder facility has been served several citations by state agency for polluting the surrounding community with toxic materials including mercury and lead. Incidentally, the facility is located less than a mile from six public parks. The petition had stated that the operation of the facility raises significant health concerns for the surrounding community and could have devastating effects on communities. The MPCA had earlier demanded the court to order immediate suspension of the facility. However, the judge had then declined the demand, thereby allowing the company to operate. In addition, both parties had signed an agreement detailing plans to reduce dust emission caused due to shredder operations.
Following complaints by local residents, MPCA had begun monitoring the site in October 2014. A second monitoring site had begun operations in 2015 as well. The monitors had measured elevated levels of airborne particulate and heavy metals. The air monitoring results had identified violations of the daily and annual TSP standards. It also identified elevated lead concentrations, measured at 80% of the national lead standard and elevated heavy metal concentrations of chromium, cobalt, and nickel measured above chronic inhalation health risk guidelines.
Many environmentalist groups such as Minneapolis-based Neighbors Organizing for Change (NOC) have supported the city move. However, it is feared that shutting down of the facility may impact small businesses in the region that sell scrap to Northern Metal. As per sources local small businesses depend on Northern Metal for selling their scrap.
Meantime, Northern Metals noted that it has made significant improvements in addressing air quality concerns. The final improvements are on the way, which should help the company to come back into compliance, thereby saving nearly 16 unionized jobs.
The fate of the recycling facility is expected to be determined by end-2016. A final decision is expected by end-December on Ramsey County case as well as on the company’s operating permit.
About Northern Metal Recycling
The company website claims the company to be the Upper Midwest’s leading metal recycler. It handles over 100 grades of ferrous and nonferrous metals. Northern Metal Recycling, headquartered in Minneapolis, is a subsidiary of European Metal Recycling. It has 12 locations in Minnesota, two in Wisconsin and three in North Dakota, including Milnor and Bismarck.