Metal shredder to shut down in settlement with Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A scrap metal company that has long been under fire from Minnesota regulators agreed Monday to permanently shut down its metal shredder in north Minneapolis and admitted that it had submitted falsified records to the state on the performance of its filtration equipment.
The 6 p.m. Monday shutdown was one of the key parts of a settlement between Northern Metal Recycling and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The company also agreed to pay a $200,000 civil penalty. The agreement also allows the MPCA to add new monitoring and reporting requirements to the permit for the company’s new facility in Becker.
“The people of north Minneapolis have been demanding for years that Northern Metals’ shredding operation be shut down. Because of the settlement we reached — which is better than what we could have achieved at trial — that’s finally happening today, for good,” Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement.
Northern Metals agreed in 2017 to move its shredding operations out of north Minneapolis to Becker and pay a $1 million civil penalty to the state to resolve concerns that the facility was spreading pollution over the inner-city neighborhood. But the legal fight didn’t end there, and the company sought extensions to keep running the shredder running in Minneapolis.
MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop said the settlement, filed in Ramsey County District Court, holds Northern Metals accountable.
The company “broke the public’s trust and showed a willful disregard toward its neighbors. These serious violations required a swift and proportional action,” Bishop said in a statement.
Northern Metals admitted to altering a log book, so it would appear the shredder’s filter units were performing properly, in violation of its permit and the earlier settlement. Under the new settlement, the company does not admit that it exceeded its permitted air emissions limits.
The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Community Members for Environmental Justice criticized the settlement, saying it allows the company to avoid a public hearing they had sought on whether the filtration system adequately controlled the shredder’s emissions of lead, particulates and soot. In a joint statement, they called on the Hennepin County attorney’s office to begin a criminal investigation into the falsified records.
Northern Metals issued a short statement saying it was pleased, according to the Star Tribune.
“We look forward to starting operations at our state-of-the-art Becker facility, which we believe will set the benchmark for sustainability and environmental protection for the recycling industry in Minnesota and the nation,” Scott Helberg, the company’s chief operating officer, said.