Appellate Court clears way for Hugo Neu recycling complex
Hugo Neu Americas Recycling Complex officials said Monday the company “is closer” to completing its permitting process, after the Appellate Court denied a petition by Schnitzer Puerto Rico Inc. to reconsider its previous decision of granting permission to the proposed $80 million operation.
“This decision brings us closer to establishing the Hugo Neu Recycling Complex that will recycle metal and non-ferrous metals, plastics, cardboard, paper, glass and e-waste,” said Greg Cortés, CEO and president of Hugo Neu Americas.
“We hope to increase the recycling rate and become a valuable asset in providing solutions to Puerto Rico’s solid waste problem as we create new jobs, generate economic activity and help build a green economy on the island,” he added.
Hugo Neu Americas is looking to build the first recycling complex in Puerto Rico to process and recycle ferrous and non-ferrous metals, plastics, paper, cardboard, glass and e- waste, in addition to the establishment of an R&D recycling facility.
The project to be located in Guaynabo, will create about 100 direct jobs. Hugo Neu has already obtained approval for its Environmental Impact Statement and site location during the last quarter of 2012. It also has a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, company officials said.
Cortés added that the company could begin construction in late 2013 once the process of obtaining all permits is completed.
“We hope there are no further attempts to delay the process,” he said.
Schnitzer submitted its objections to the establishment of the Recycling Complex during the EIS comment period and later took its concerns before the Puerto Rico Planning Board in an attempt to get the agency to deny the site location permit.
Once the EIS and the site location permit were approved, Schnitzer asked that the Planning Board reconsider its decision, a petition that was denied. Schnitzer filed in the Appellate Court a request for judicial review of the Planning Board’s decision.
The Appellate Court determined on Feb. 28 that Schnitzer “lacks legal standing to bring its claims before the Courts of Puerto Rico.”
“After examining the request before us and its appendix, we concluded that Schnitzer did not provide proof to justify its intervention during the administrative process,” the Court order stated.
“Schnitzer alleged damages in an imprecise and vague manner and did not prove during the administrative hearing the reality or existence of damage, which is why it is not enabled to take legal action. Therefore, we resolve that the request is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction,” the court further noted.
Schnitzer allegedly based its court claim on the premise that it would lose business, which could affect its employees, if the Hugo Neu Americas operation is established. The metal processor claimed there are no more metals to be recycled in Puerto Rico.
“However, the company continues to expand its operations throughout Puerto Rico. Late last year it opened a new metal collection center and it is currently expanding its operations with the construction of a new building at its Salinas facilities,” Hugo Neu officials said.