UPDATE: At a recent Minneapolis City Council meeting, the city adopted a motion that permitted the city attorney's office to take part in settlement negotiations which would potentially revoke Northern Metal's permit for operating, as reported by Twin Cities Daily Planet.
While environmental advocates are pushing to shut down the recycling plant due to alleged air pollution, some are worried that shutting down the facility would affect small businesses that sell scrap to Northern Metal. Therefore, officials are hoping to develop a compromise that would benefit all parties as much as possible.
The fate of the Northern Metal Recycling permit is to be determined by the end of 2016.
- A Minnesota county judge has ordered Northern Metal Recycling to shut down part of its operations in Minneapolis by the end of the week due to air quality issues, as reported by the Star Tribune.
- A key portion of the company's metals recovery facility, along with an attached rain and snow shed, can't be used until the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issues a modified permit or the company can prove it isn't contributing to air quality issues in the area.
- The company has said that operations won't be interrupted and it's in the midst of making multiple improvements to the facility in conjunction with MPCA's approval.
Northern Metal has been a controversial part of the neighborhood in recent years due to concerns about residual dust from metal shredding and other issues. MPCA has been monitoring air quality around the facility since 2014 and found higher concentrations of lead than anywhere else in the state earlier this year. In May, the agency moved to revoke the facility's permit and filed a temporary injunction to stop operations. A judge declined to rule on this in June, allowing the facility to remain open, though a hearing on the permit issue is schedule for this fall.
The state applauded this most recent news.
"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," said David Thornton, the MPCA’s assistant commissioner for air quality issues, in a statement.
In response to the court order, Northern Metal said it is "rushing to make these final improvements," as reported in the Star Tribune. The company hopes to prevent the potential loss of 16 union jobs by coming back into compliance as soon as possible.