New Brunswick

Shredder company's CEO known for legal scraps

The American Iron & Metal president, who is pushing a controversial scrap metal shredder in west Saint John, has a history of getting into legal scraps with his opponents.

The American Iron & Metal president, who is pushing a controversial scrap metal shredder in west Saint John, has a history of getting into legal scraps with his opponents.

Herb Black, the president and chief executive officer of American Iron & Metal, has filed lawsuits against environmental groups before.

On Wednesday, about 200 residents packed a community centre to voice frustration about plans to use high-voltage overhead lines to supply power to Black's latest project.

They say they have health and safety concerns and want the power lines buried.

When Herb Black started a metal recycling plant at the former dump in Levis, Que., in 2005, local environmental groups spoke out against the $25-million project.

They alleged the company hadn't gotten the proper permits and was polluting the nearby Etchemin River.

The opponents managed to halt work on the plant by getting an injunction.

Black then filed a $5-million lawsuit for what he called "malicious, reckless and abusive efforts" to stop the project.

The defendants alleged it was a SLAPP suit — or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation — a tactic sometimes used by companies with deep financial reserves.

These lawsuits are designed to intimidate and silence opponents by dragging them through lengthy and expensive court proceedings until they abandon their cause.

At the time, Black maintained the suit was a legitimate one.

The matter was settled out of court in 2007 and the parties can't discuss the case.

West Saint John powerline opponents reached by CBC News were aware of Black's case in Quebec, but didn't want to comment.

Black has said if the matter can't be resolved, he'll leave the city along with the estimated 30 jobs and millions in economic spinoffs. Other New Brunswick communities have lobbied the company to move the shredder to their area.

Saint John council voted against allowing NB Power to build the high voltage line in July.

NB Power planned to build the high-voltage line along the Bay of Fundy coast and through residential neighbourhoods to supply power to the plant.

NB Power has said burying the line underground would be too expensive and difficult to repair.

Residents have signed a petition against the above-ground transmission line.

Saint John Mayor Ivan Court said the information collected at this week's public meeting will be considered prior to next Monday's council meeting.

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