N.B. suspends AIM recycling plant’s approval to operate pending fire review

Click to play video: 'N.B. premier and Port Saint John reviewing AIM facility after major fire'
N.B. premier and Port Saint John reviewing AIM facility after major fire
WATCH: New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs and Port Saint John are reviewing whether or not the American Iron and Metal Facility will be allowed to operate at its current location, after last week’s significant fire. But Saint John Council says it’s time to give them the boot after a number of incidents over the last five years. Silas Brown reports. – Sep 19, 2023

A Saint John, N.B., recycling plant, which was the site of a massive fire that prompted a city-wide air quality warning, has been ordered to stop operating until a full investigation and review is completed.

Premier Blaine Higgs and Port Saint John CEO Craig Bell Estabrooks said in a news release Monday that a joint task force will be appointed to investigate the fire that broke out last week at American Iron & Metal (AIM).

Port Saint John is also investigating the company’s compliance with the terms of their lease.

The fire at the recycling plant broke out at 1 a.m. last Thursday amid a pile of crushed cars.

Dr. Rita Gad, the acting medical officer of health for the region, said the plume and smoke was likely filled with chemicals and contaminants. Later in the day, the City of Saint John and New Brunswick Public Health issued a shelter-in-place advisory for all of Saint John.

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Saint John Mayor Donna Reardon said last week that the fire was the size of three football fields and about three storeys tall at its peak, leaving an acrid smell in the air.

The fire was contained the next day.

Click to play video: 'Massive fire breaks out at AIM facility in Saint John'
Massive fire breaks out at AIM facility in Saint John

Port Saint John said it has restricted activities at the terminal where the fire took place, and are only allowing emergency operations that are related to stabilizing the site.

“The province of New Brunswick remains committed to ensuring that a full and thorough investigation will take place,” Higgs said in Monday’s statement.

“We are very thankful no one was injured or hurt at the site during the incident.”

Management from the company issued a statement one day after the fire, saying that the safety and well-being of employees and the public were “paramount” to them.

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“We will continue to work with local authorities to determine the cause of the incident and, where necessary, put additional measures in place to mitigate the risk of this happening again,” read the statement.

“We are sorry for this incident’s impact on residents and the community. Our team is committed to keeping residents and stakeholders informed as we move forward.”

— with a file from The Canadian Press

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