AIM Recycling Atlantic in Saint John has been shut down pending an investigation by the province following recent explosions at the facility.
The move comes as the City of Saint John is calling for tighter enforcement of the plant’s operating rules.
AIM Recycling Atlantic, formerly known as American Iron and Metal, sits on federal land at Port Saint John and is regulated by the provincial government.
Saint John Common Council supported a motion from Mayor Don Darling calling for a letter to be sent to several provincial ministers and regional MLAs, federal politicians and Port Saint John to “ensure enforcement is happening on all aspects of the AIM facility approval to operate.”
The Department of Environment and Climate Change confirmed an explosion Monday at the plant. It was at least the second explosion there in less than a week.
The department said in a statement the plant was forced to cease operations because the explosion “exceeded their approval limits.” An investigator was expected to be on-site through Tuesday.
“AIM Recycling is currently shut down and given the frequency of recent explosions, the Department of Environment and Climate Change has decided to conduct a more in-depth investigation,” said Minister Gary Crossman, in an email to Global News.
Darling said federal and provincial regulators need to “bring back balance” to AIM’s operations.
“Not anti-industry, not trying to put anyone out of a job, but simply trying to have conditions present where we can thrive and grow and people can live in coexistence with industries,” Darling told Common Council.
Council and residents in the area have criticized the explosion events and level of noise at the facility for years.
There have even been calls for AIM to move off port land to an industrial park.
But councillor David Hickey believes residents and industries can coexist.
“There is clear miscommunication on what the expectations are,” Hickey said. “Because we cannot normalize explosions within a hundred yards of residential areas. We can’t. It’s not a sustainable solution for a growing community like ours.”
Michael Cormier, the general manager of AIM Recycling Atlantic, released a lengthy statement prior to the council meeting expressing a willingness to work with city officials.
He also said the plant is “complying with all the conditions of its approval to operate but is also proactively working to minimize any negative impacts its operations may have on the community through education.”
Port Saint John released a statement Tuesday saying it shares concerns expressed by the city, its residents and province.
“Port officials are meeting with AIM officials to discuss their operations and our concerns,” the statement said. “We will be supporting all efforts including those of AIM to reduce the occurrence of incidents at their operation.”