MPCA takes action to close metal shredder on riverfront

Updated: June 1, 2016 - 9:21 am

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has taken legal steps to halt operations at Northern Metal Recycling because officials say the company provided misleading information when applying for an air quality permit in 2012 and has polluted the air in North Minneapolis.

The metal shredder is located on the riverfront just south of the Lowry Avenue Bridge on the city’s North Side at 2800 N. Pacific St.

MPCA officials say the metal shredder is believed to be a primary source of particulate emissions that have repeatedly violated state air quality standards since 2014, the agency announced in a statement Thursday.

The MPCA filed a motion for temporary injunction in Ramsey County District Court to immediately halt activities at the site believed to be contributing to the pollution.

MPCA Assistant Commissioner David Thornton said the agency believes the company hasn’t been truthful about its emissions at the facility or added or changed emission sources after the permit was issued without informing the MPCA.

“Either of these conditions is a serious violation of state and federal air quality laws and cause for permit revocation,” Thornton said.  “The revocation process takes some time to play out, so while that’s underway we are also asking the court to enjoin Northern Metals from further operations.  The violations of air quality standards that have been occurring in this area must be stopped.”

If Northern Metals’ permit is revoked, it can reapply for another one but would have to agree to account for its emissions.

The MPCA started monitoring air quality near the metal shredder after it issued the company a permit in 2012. It soon detected elevated particulates exceeding state standards.

In March, the agency also announced that air monitors near the Lowry Avenue bridge near the shredder have recorded lead levels concerning to state officials.

Representatives of Northern Metal Recycling were not available for comment Thursday.

The City of Minneapolis requested an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Northern Metal site in 2011 and requested the MPCA deny a permit for an expansion of its operations in 2012.

Mayor Betsy Hodges commended the MPCA for taking steps to shut down the shredder.

“As I have said, this is an environmental justice issue that impacts one of our most overburdened neighborhoods,” she said. “We must not let the health of our residents, including our children, be determined by their zip code.”

Hodges encouraged anyone in the area or in older homes that may contain lead paint to get their children tested for lead exposure.

State Rep. Raymond Dehn (DFL-59B), whose district includes the shredder site, said he’s also glad to see the MPCA move to shut down Northern Metal.

“For decades, legislators and advocates have been calling attention to the pollution and harm that the shredder is causing to our community,” he said. “It has now come to light that not only has Northern Metals been polluting the air in my community, they’ve been lying to the MPCA to obtain permits to expand their operations. It’s beyond time that they’re shut down. I’m glad they listened to the voices of our community, the advocates, and the elected officials working with them.”