Saturday, September 16, 2023

Saint John lifts shelter-in-place notice as AIM fire brought under control

 Dear Minister Hallman,

I guess this article indicates that citified New Brunswickers are  better protected from environmental bullies than small-time Nova Scotians.
Residents and officials want company to be held accountable
A shelter-in-place advisory has been lifted for Saint John as firefighters continued to work Friday at the smouldering remains of a scrap metal fire at the American Iron and Metal recycling plant.
But Saint John Mayor Donna Reardon said she wants the company held accountable for any health and environmental impacts of the fire, which sent hazardous clouds of smoke over the city for more than a day.
"This was all predictable based on the company's operating style," Reardon said Friday.
Gee, that sounds like your pals at Fexter
Firefighters have been at AIM since the fire started at about 1 a.m.Thursday, spewing so much smoke that the city asked people to take shelter or wear masks.
Our Autofluff fire burned for almost whole year and your staff didn't notice
AIM, which sits next to Saint John Harbour on the city's west side, has been at the centre of noise and environmental complaints from residents for years.
Explosions at the yard have awakened and worried people living on the lower west side, and there were two workplace deaths within a seven-month period between 2021 and 2022.
AIM is also facing workplace safety charges related to the death of one of the workers, Darrell Richards.
"We have so many questions ... It's not a business that's sustainable around residential. It's ridiculous to have it there," Reardon said.
Yup, give it to the country bumpkins
Firefighters have been fighting the fire at American Iron and Metal recycling plant since early Thursday morning.
In a statement Friday, the City of Saint John said New Brunswick Public Health lifted the shelter notice but still recommended anyone who can see and smell smoke take precautions, including wearing a mask.
What a good idea!  But the mask budget vanished with the $15,000  donation to Ducks Unlimited.....
Fire Chief Kevin Clifford said his crews have made a lot of progress at the fire scene.
"Things are are getting better," he told Information Morning Saint John on Friday, "I think we're going to be on the site for a while longer."
Dr. Rita RaaFat Gad, the acting medical officer of health for the Saint John region, said this was not a regular fire. The nature of the material that burned, the chemicals and particulate becoming airborne, made the smoke hazardous.
But not hazardous to the rugged rural folk
According to the province's air quality data, the amount of fine particulate matter in the air on Thursday was the highest it's been since December 2021. It's the second-highest ever reported on the province's charts.
The amount was high all day Thursday starting at 10 a.m. and did not go back to normal levels until midnight.
Melanie Langille, NB Lung's president and CEO, said the particles from the fire are particularly dangerous for lung health because they are small enough to cross through the lungs into the rest of the body.
Aah, the pure Nova Scotia air!
"They get deep into the body and can cause widespread inflammation across multiple organ systems," she said. " So there's really no safe level of this type of air pollution," she said.
Kathleen McNamara, who lives along the waterfront in uptown Saint John and a quarter of a kilometre from the scrapyard, said she had no warning the fire had happened. She was sleeping with the window open all night as the fire first started.
"I really feel the residents should have been made aware that this was happening," she said. "I certainly would have closed my windows."
Premier looking for answers
Premier Blaine Higgs has ordered an investigation into the fire and said AIM operations won't resume until the government has a better understanding of what happened.
AIM leases the scrapyard land from Port Saint John, and the land is federally owned. In a statement, the port said it supports the decision to suspend operations at AIM.
"We've heard the frustration, disappointment, and alarm from our community today. What happened is unacceptable," the port said in a statement.
"We are committed to working with the Province and our key stakeholders to ensure something like this doesn't happen again."
As opposed to Minister Hallman, who says "We are committed to working with Fexter to ensure something like this stays quiet"
Reardon said she is worried about the long-term health and environmental impacts.
"All of this water that they're using hosing that whole scene down with — that's all running and trickling off into the harbour. What are the impacts of that?"
The federal government's air quality index is back at "low risk" for the whole city.
Clifford said crews are focusing on moving debris and putting out pockets of fire.
"We suspect will be there for at least another day or two," he said.

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