Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021 Church Directory
SCOTT HELBERG AND JAKE HANSEN of Northern Metals Recycling stood on the new tracks behind the Northern Metals Recycling facility in Becker. (Photo by Katherine Cantin.)
EVEN AN ENTIRE BUS will take only seconds to be shredded at the Northern Metals Recycling facility. (Photo by Katherine Cantin.)

Northern Metals installs railway spur

Northern Metals Recycling is installing a spur to the railroad track just west of Hancock St. in Becker, which will allow trains to split off from the main railway and enter the Northern Metals facility.

The Spur

Northern Metals Recycling plans to use the railway to ship out metal that has been processed. The metal will then go on to several different foundries to be processed into material that can be used in construction, auto manufacturing, and infrastructure.

About 50,000 tons of metal will be hauled by trains, and will keep about 2,000 semi-trucks off the road, each month. The train is much more carbon-efficient than all the semis on the road now. One train can haul the same amount of metal scrap as 400 semi trucks.

Chief operating officer Scott Helberg said, “No one likes to get stuck behind a train, but can you imagine what it would be like if, instead of a train, it was 400 semi-trucks on the road with you?”

Helberg was excited at the prospect of getting the vehicles off the roads, both for the sake of carbon emissions and traffic.

The spur will direct trains off of the main railway and onto a ladder track. The train will then be loaded with metals that have been shredded and processed and are ready to go to the foundry.

The railway is also excited to be a part of the project. The BNSF Railway Company stated that they are always looking for opportunities to expand, and have designated Becker’s industrial park as one of their Certified Sites.

“This project offers a great opportunity for economic development in the area,” said Courtney Wallace of the BNSF media relations team.

Carbon Emissions and Pollutants

EMR Metal Recycling, the parent company of Northern Metal Recycling, has a goal of having its facilities across the nation be carbon neutral by the year 2040. With the technology Northern Metal Recycling employs now, 99% of all the metal is captured and made usable again at the facility.

Scrap is brought into the facility and is inspected by a crew on the ground to ensure no unacceptable parts are present; a car engine, for example. Next, the scrap is fed through the shredder. The shredder is incredibly fast, and can shred a pickup truck in about four seconds. The unique thing about Northern Metal Recycling is that once the scrap is fed into the shredder, neither the metal or any other products are released outside until it has been thoroughly cleaned. This means that the scrap — and any gasses, non-metal materials, and hazardous waste — does not leave the inside of the facility until it is confirmed to be clean. Other recycling plants often perform these operations outdoors, which can result in hazardous waste and gasses entering the atmosphere.

The metal is air-polished as it travels out of the shredder and through the facility. The air, and any hazardous gasses that come with it, is then scrubbed using roll filters. After the air has been scrubbed, it is released back into the atmosphere through a smoke stack.

Jake Hansen, site manager, said you can’t see anything come out of the stack, ever. Not because nothing is coming out, but because the air has been thoroughly scrubbed clean and no pollutants remain.

Fire Hazards

Hansen stated that the facility is working hard to ensure a fire like the one that occurred last spring does not happen again. All the scrap that is collected at the facility will be processed the same day, most of the time. Even if the facility has to stockpile some recyclables, they don’t let the stacks become too high or wide.

Going Forward

Northern Metals Recycling hopes to expand their facility in the future. They own a fair amount of undeveloped land for expansion. They also hope to add a truck shop, and create a facility to accept recyclables from the public.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held when construction on the tracks and the new spur is completed.