Money for community health projects in neighborhoods near the Northern Metals Recycling facility may not reach residents for years, depending on how long it takes a new committee to decide how the funds should be doled out.
Northern Metals reached a $2.5 million settlement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) early this year. As part of the agreement, the company will pay $600,000 for asthma and lead-poisoning mitigation in areas surrounding its north Minneapolis plant.
A committee made up mostly of people who live near the metal shredder will decide how to use the $600,000. A City Council committee will vote Monday on forming the advisory committee, and the full council will have final approval.
The city’s Health Department initially planned to start working on asthma education, an asthma mitigation program, testing of lead levels in the blood and lead exposure reduction resources in north and northeast Minneapolis this fall. But the City Council hit pause in May after people living near the Northern Metals plant said they wanted to have more input in how the settlement money is used.
The 18-person committee would include 12 members from the Sheridan, Bottineau, McKinley and Hawthorne neighborhoods and six at-large members.
“It offers the opportunity for community members to help drive some of this work,” said Patrick Hanlon, the city’s environmental initiatives manager.
Advisory committee applications are due Oct. 20. The committee must report back to the council by Dec. 31, 2020.
In addition to the money for health projects, the Northern Metals settlement includes a $1 million civil penalty, payment for three years of air monitoring, reimbursement to the state for monitoring costs, court costs and legal fees. The facility is also required to move by August 2019; the company has made plans to relocate to Becker, Minn.