SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): American Iron and Metal has started examining the environmental impact of the scrap metal fire that burned for two days at its dockside operations last week, according to an incident report the company sent to the Environment Department on the day the fire broke out.
Engineers were scheduled to be at the facility last Friday and were supposed to meet with a "third-party site professional to assess the environmental impacts from this event and identify if any remedial actions are necessary."
The preliminary report, which the Environment Department released, was part of the requirements imposed by the province when it shut down operations at AIM's west-side metal recycling plant.
The company is also required to send a followup report within five days of the incident, although the department hasn't confirmed whether that has been received.
AIM officials did not respond to a request for an interview.
According to the preliminary report from AIM, the fire was first discovered at approximately 1:45 a.m. on Sept. 14 by an industrial mechanic working overnight on maintenance of the shredder.
The employee "noticed an odour" and "proceeded to investigate." That's when he saw the flames coming from the "in-feed scrap pile. He immediately alerted 911, followed by the site manager."
AIM then notified the Environment and Climate Change Canada's National Environmental Emergencies Centre and Port Saint John.
"AIM deployed its emergency response plan and alerted the appropriate authorities in accordance with its Approval to Operate I-11555," according to the one-page report sent by Ann Marcotte, AIM's environment director.
"AIM confirms there are no casualties, no buildings have been affected by the blaze, and the fire affects a single pile of scrap."
For two days straight, Saint John firefighters poured approximately two million litres of water on the fire, according to Fire Chief Kevin Clifford.
That was in addition to a substantial contribution by the Atlantic Osprey, a platform supply vessel owned by J.D. Irving Ltd., which sprayed 1,000 litres a second at the fire from 180 metres away.
All that water washing potentially hazardous chemicals into the harbour is part of the community's concern about environmental impacts, said Saint John Mayor Donna Reardon, who called AIM "a black eye on our community."
Craig Bell Estabrooks, CEO of Port Saint John, said he understands the community's concerns and frustrations.
"I get it," he told Information Morning Saint John on Wednesday morning.
"I live two blocks up from the cruise terminal. I live this as well, and this is a very challenging, difficult situation for everyone that lives in proximity and I get it."
He said the port is committed to the investigation.
"First and foremost, community safety is paramount to us and we want to be a good neighbour to the people of Saint John and the series of explosions, fires, accidents, tragic deaths that have occurred at the AIM site, they just must stop."
Exactly how to stop them is yet to be determined, said Bell Estabrooks.
"The investigation is going to cover absolutely everything to do with our lease and the operations of the facility."