AERT REVIVING FIRE-DAMAGED RECYCLING PLANT

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Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc. hopes to resume some plastics recycling at its facility in Rogers, Ark., by late April.

AERT submitted a claim of loss for about $2 million to St. Paul Cos. Inc. for damages from a Dec. 15 fire at the Rogers plant, according to AERT President Joe Brooks. AERT recently said its insurer advanced $350,000 for the loss, and AERT has submitted rebuilding plans to local authorities.

St. Paul spokeswoman Kim O'Connell said her company would not comment on AERT's claim because of client confidentiality. She confirmed that the Rogers facility was insured by St. Paul Marine and Fire Insurance Co. of St. Paul, Minn.

Early this year AERT said the December fire — the fifth at an AERT facility since January 1993 — was due to arson. Ken Ryley, chief of the Rogers Fire Department, said his department and other officials are continuing with the investigation because of the ``suspicious nature'' of the blaze, which nearly destroyed the Rogers facility. Bill Buford, an agent with the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, confirmed ATF is involved in the investigation, but he would not comment further on the case during a telephone interview from the ATF office in Little Rock, Ark.

Brooks said AERT plans to have Rogers back in full production in June or July. It recycled post-consumer low and high density polyethylene for AERT's production of Moistureshield and Choicedek composite building materials. Rogers shipped cleaned and reprocessed PE to AERT's Junction, Texas, plant, which mixed it with cedar fibers and extruded it into building materials.

The composite profiles are sold to residential deck markets, door and window producers and industrial flooring markets.

The Junction facility continues to operate by sourcing clean scrap from outside sources, Brooks said. His firm is looking for additional sources of flake or densified PE to help feed Junction's three extrusion lines.

AERT said it has settled a claim of about $1.5 million with two insurance companies for another fire at Rogers last September. That incident destroyed a storage, bulk loading and warehousing facility.