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Northern Metals prepares to open facility in Becker

Updated: July 09, 2019 10:36 PM

A company forced to leave Minneapolis over pollution problems will soon open its new site in central Minnesota. Becker is preparing to welcome Northern Metals Recycling to town.

The facility is in the final stretch of construction.

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“We’re the only shredder that actually operates totally indoors,” said Scott Halberg, the company’s chief operating officer. “There’s no other facility like that that we know of in the world.”

He walked KSTP around the more than 50-acre recycling facility. It will process everything from industrial metals to old cars.

“This facility, when we get it up and running, will employ about 85 employees,” said Halberg.

The company is relocating from Minneapolis as part of a settlement reached with MPCA about two years ago. Northern Metals was accused of contributing to poor air quality.

Under the settlement, the company had to pay $2.5 million in costs and penalties, plus agree to move out of the metro area by August 2019.

Halberg told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they are 90 percent done with construction.


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“There’s about every level of emission control you can put on a plant,” he said.

The construction is within eyesight of Xcel Energy’s Sherco coal-fired power plant.

Part of the plant will shut down in 2023 and another part will close in 2026.

Xcel filed its Integrated Resource Plan on July 1, which includes decommissioning the rest of the plant by 2030. The Public Utilities Commission is now considering it.

“Our tax base is that plant,” said Greg Pruszinske, the city administrator.

He told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that closing all three parts would cut roughly 250 jobs.

“What we’re hoping to do is create jobs and backfill some of that tax base,” he said. “For the community as a whole, transition away from that coal economy.”

Northern Metals will help. The city is also working to secure a $600 million Google data center, which Pruszinske said would create about 50 jobs.

The city submitted its first pitch to Google in 2017, according to Pruszinske.

“It just takes a lot of time for the company to decide if this is the right move for them,” he said. “We’re a contender for this project and I’m confident we’re going to make it to the end zone.”

College student Dakota Warner hopes the project comes to fruition. He’s trying to get into the tech field.

“It’s definitely needed if you ask me because there aren’t enough jobs for people my age looking into this sort of thing,” said Warner. “It opens up opportunities for me, opportunities for a lot of millennials.”

Plus, he said, “it’ll honestly put Becker on the map”.

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Credits

Callan Gray

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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