State pol­lu­tion regu­la­tors have asked a judge to ord­er an up­per riv­er­front scrapyard in Minneapolis to stop vio­lat­ing air-qual­i­ty stand­ards, even if that means re­duc­ing or end­ing op­er­ations, and to pay for per­mit vio­la­tions.

The Minnesota Pol­lu­tion Control Agency (MPCA) filed with Ramsey County District Court its first public ex­pla­na­tion of why it has fo­cused on Northern Metal in its in­ves­ti­ga­tion of air-qual­i­ty emis­sions.

The a­gen­cy said that moni­tors on eith­er side of the Northern Metal yard at 2800 N. Pacific St., Minneapolis, have re­cord­ed eight times when air in the area ex­ceed state stand­ards. It said it is fo­cus­ing on Northern Metal be­cause moni­tors found that the vio­la­tions oc­cur­red down­wind from the yard, and be­cause moni­tor­ing fil­ters con­tained sig­nif­i­cant­ly more metal par­ti­cles than moni­tors else­where in Minneapolis.

The com­pany's yard re­ceives scrap metal, and shreds some of it in­side an en­closed build­ing that is equipped with what the com­pany has de­scribed as the best avail­able tech­nol­o­gy to con­trol emis­sions. In­stal­la­tion of the shred­der was controversial a­mong some area resi­dents.

The moni­tor­ing was be­gun by the a­gen­cy af­ter its board voted in 2012 to re­lax the per­mit for the shred­der with­out fur­ther en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies sought by three legis­la­tors, some area resi­dents and en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vo­cates. That was done af­ter the shred­der failed to meet stand­ards set in its ori­gi­nal per­mit af­ter it be­gan op­er­at­ing in 2009.

The a­gen­cy said when it re­vamped the per­mit that its stud­ies found that air-qual­i­ty stand­ards for fine par­ti­cles would be ex­ceed­ed by area firms but that the shred­der con­tri­buted only 2 percent of that load. The vio­la­tions re­sul­ting from the a­gen­cy's moni­tor­ing gen­er­al­ly in­volve lar­ger par­ti­cles.

The a­gen­cy also said that both its staff and a cam­er­a add­ed to one of the moni­tors have ob­served dust es­cap­ing from the shred­der build­ing.

Northern Metal went to court last month, ar­gu­ing that the a­gen­cy has un­fair­ly sin­gled out its fa­cil­i­ty. The fil­ing this week re­spond­ed to an ord­er by Ramsey County District Judge John Guthmann that the a­gen­cy shut down the moni­tors or ex­plain why not.

The a­gen­cy asked the judge to as­sess a ci­vil pen­al­ty of up to $10,000 per day of vi­o­la­tion. It de­nied the firm's con­ten­tion that it was not in com­pli­ance with state and fed­er­al pro­ced­ures for lo­cat­ing its moni­tors.

Dan­iel White, an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing Northern Metal, re­spond­ed: "Sim­ply put: MPCA's re­sponse is a des­per­ate at­tempt to ex­cuse its ju­di­cial­ly-rec­og­nized non­com­pli­ance with the air emis­sions rules and protocols."

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