Explosion at Saint John metal recycler shakes residents

Saint John Mayor Don Darling is calling on the federal and provincial governments to investigate after reports of another explosion Friday morning at American Iron & Metal on the city's waterfront.

City mayor calls for investigation by federal and provincial authorities

Port Saint John issued a statement Friday saying there was a 'significant explosion' at the American Iron & Metal Company Inc. facility at about 7 a.m. Friday. (Julia Wright/CBC)

Saint John Mayor Don Darling is calling on the federal and provincial governments to investigate after reports of another explosion Friday morning at American Iron & Metal on the city's waterfront.

"Something has got to stop here, we cannot have explosions happening like this," he said.

"People are fearful, I'm getting phone calls, people were shaken out of their beds this morning thinking something catastrophic has happened."

People living around the harbour say there have been other, less significant blasts over the past few years.

Darling says the city has no jurisdiction over federally owned Port of Saint John land where AIM has created a scrap metal recycling and exporting plant.

'The house shook'

Among those who say they were shaken by the blast was Fort Howe resident Gary Vincent, who told CBC he was drinking coffee shortly after 7:00 a.m. when he felt the room move.

"The house shook," said Vincent. "It was almost like a car ran into the side of the house."

Jeff Roach of Alexandra Street described a similar sensation.

"Our five-year-old woke up and yelled out to us," he said. "He was terrified by it."

Roach shared the recording from a security camera on his property with CBC.

The sound of the explosion can clearly be heard.

City Councillor Gerry Lowe lives in a waterfront condominium directly across from the AIM site. 

"I personally thought that two boats had collided in the harbour," said Lowe. "I'd never heard one as loud as this."

'Significant' explosion

Lowe, who is a candidate in the upcoming provincial election, said he could see smoke rising from the AIM operation and then heard sirens from first responders.

AIM did not respond to a request for comment from CBC. 

Another loud explosion left a wall of smoke over the AIM facility in June 2017. (Submitted by Rebecca Cunningham)

The Port of Saint John issued a statement saying there was a "significant" explosion at American Iron and Metal and that the source had been identified by AIM staff. It did not elaborate on what caused the blast.

Saint John Fire Chief Kevin Clifford says the 911 call did not come from the company.

"We should have been called [by AIM]," he said. "Other industries in our community do that. They are respectful to us."

This is not the first report of an explosion at the AIM site. Another particularly loud one took place in June 2017; it left a wall of smoke over the facility. 

Company spokesperson Kamila Wirpszo told CBC at the time the explosion was small and beyond the company's control.

About the Author

Connell Smith

Reporter

Connell Smith is a reporter with CBC in Saint John. He can be reached at 632-7726 Connell.smith@cbc.ca