Northern Metals settlement

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Northern Metals settlement

The MPCA, Northern Metal Recycling, and the city of Minneapolis have agreed on a settlement that resolves outstanding claims by MPCA and the city, and sets a date by which the company will move the shredder out of the city.

The settlement has been submitted to the Ramsey County District Court for final approval.  The settlement document (Consent Decree) is available on the MPCA’s North Minneapolis Air Monitoring Project website. (

Under the settlement, Northern Metals will move the shredder to a new, non-metro location by August 1, 2019 and pay $2.5 million in costs and penalties, including:

  • a $1 million civil penalty
  • payment for three years of continued air monitoring near the facility
  • reimbursement to the state for past monitoring costs, court costs, and legal fees
  • $600,000 to the City of Minneapolis for community heath projects to benefit nearby communities.

In a statement issued to news media, MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine called the settlement “a welcome start to addressing a problem for residents in North Minneapolis who are already overburdened with health and pollution issues.”  He acknowledged community concerns about allowing the shredder to continue operating, and said the company has made the improvements and passed the emissions testing the MPCA asked them to.  He said the facility is complying with its permit and “we will be closely watching over their operation.”  

The improvements Stine referred to include improving the shredder building’s ability to contain pollution and completing recent stack testing of emissions.  Stack testing was done by a third-party firm under specific operating conditions, with the results reviewed and deemed compliant by the MPCA.  

The settlement resolves an action that Northern Metals started in Ramsey County District Court in the spring of 2015 to shut down MPCA air monitors near the shredder.  The court instead ordered a partial shutdown of the facility.  It also ends the administrative process the MPCA began to revoke Northern Metals’ operating permit after determining the company had not provided accurate information in its permit application or in response to MPCA requests for information.  

Community health projects
The community funding provision of the settlement settles claims by the city, which joined as a party to settlement negotiations last fall.  Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a statement, “This settlement provides a measure of environmental justice for the people of North Minneapolis. We will be using the settlement to do what the residents of North Minneapolis told us they wanted us to do with it: 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.”
Part of the settlement calls for the company to meet with community members and representatives of the city quarterly to record and address any concerns and complaints related to the shredder operation. We have not confirmed a date for the first meeting yet, but once confirmed, we’ll provide information on date and location.  

Other details
The settlement also:

  • makes permanent the shut-down of the metal recovery plant (MRP) portion of the facility that the court ordered last summer
  • spells out additional operating conditions the facility must meet to ensure it operates in compliance with its air quality permit and does not contribute unduly to exceedances of air quality standards in the area prior to its move
  • tightens the facility’s requirements for stormwater management.

The full settlement is available on the MPCA’s website.  We’ll keep you posted on any further developments in these matters.