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A fire at American Iron and Metal's scrapyard facility in Saint John on Sept. 14, 2023. Image: Submitted/Jennifer Mai

Premier doubts AIM will reopen on Saint John waterfront

By Brad Perry Mar 26, 2024 | 10:50 AM

New Brunswick’s premier says he does not expect American Iron and Metal will ever operate again at Port Saint John.

AIM Recyling’s waterfront operations have been suspended since a catastrophic fire in September.

The company is taking the province to court as it seeks to have the suspension of its approval to operate quashed.

Premier Blaine Higgs was asked about the court case following an announcement in Saint John on Monday.

“I didn’t expect that it would be easy. I don’t see that it’ll be a short argument because I’m sure AIM will fight it with everything they can,” said Higgs.

“But I think the message is clear that their ability to operate safely in the harbour is not there and we were clear on that with the judgment, but I guess I wasn’t surprised at their pushback.”

A long-awaited report into the fire said the scrap metal recycling facility should not be in the centre of the city.

But the provincially-appointed task force stopped short of recommending that the facility be relocated or shuttered for good.

Higgs was also asked if his government could guarantee that the scrapyard would never operate there again.

“Can we guarantee? I don’t see it operating here in the port. Again, I just think that there’s enough history here,” he said.

The blaze inside a massive pile of crushed cars burned for more than 40 hours, prompting a voluntary city-wide shelter-in-place order due to air quality concerns.

It also renewed calls from some in the community, including members of Saint John council, to shut down the facility once and for all.

While the cause of the fire has not been determined, investigators believe the probable ignition source was a failure of discarded rechargeable batteries.

The task force also found a “material risk” that a similar catastrophic fire could happen again at the AIM operation.