Arsenic: Quebec judges for the first time that Rouyn-Noranda can meet the standard | Arsenic Rouyn-Noranda

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Arsenic : Quebec judges for the first time that Rouyn-Noranda can reach the norm | Arsenic Rouyn-Noranda

The Ministry of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change has redone its calculations and it arrives at a different result from before.

Quebec Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change, Benoit Charette

For the first time, the Ministry of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (MELCC) estimates that it is theoretically possible to reach 3 nanograms of arsenic per cubic meter (ng /m3) in the air of the Horne Foundry district, which is the Quebec standard. Until now, the Ministry considered that it was impossible to go below 12.1 ng/m3.

This estimate of the background noise of #x27;Arsenic is a central element in establishing the new Horne Smelter emissions cap. It is the evaluation of the quantities of arsenic contained in the air without the presence of the plant.

After two weeks of email exchanges on this subject between Radio-Canada and the Ministry, the latter announced to us Thursday morning that it had redone its calculations.

As part of the process of the current renewal [of the ministerial authorization], the evaluation of the background noise of arsenic near the Foundry was updated recently, explains the MELCC.

“In light of these new data and the most recent statistical analyses, the MELCC concludes that the background of arsenic, excluding the impact of the Smelter, could be around 3 ng/m³, except in the sectors closest to the Foundry, where it would be slightly higher. »

— Sophie Gauthier, spokesperson for the Quebec Ministry of the Environment

This is a much lower result than the background noise of 12.1 ng/m3 that the Ministry calculated until last month. This figure simply made it impossible to impose the Quebec standard.

According to the Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette, that the background noise is lower is good news.

“It's still good and comforting that the environment, naturally, does not contain more arsenic than the most recent studies lead us to believe.

—Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment of Quebec

Unless the Foundry is closed, to reach the standard of 3 ng/m3, however, the plant would have to be able to cancel all its atmospheric emissions, by reducing them as much as possible or by capturing them.

Glencore is working on $500 million measures to reduce its emissions, with the idea of ​​”encapsulating the Horne Smelter”.

In the 2021 report of the interdepartmental committee on the action plan of the Horne Foundry, it could be read that the evaluation of the background noise at station 8006 [that of the MELCC] will make it possible to set future objectives which are realistic and achievable, given that it will be impossible for the Foundry to reach a concentration equivalent to the background noise measured at this station.

Elsewhere in Quebec, the Ministère estimates that the background level of arsenic is 1 to 2 ng/m3 in rural areas and 2 to 3 ng/m3 in urban areas, hence the Quebec standard of 3 ng/m3.

Previously, MELCC assessments took into account unrestored mine sites around the city of Rouyn-Noranda that could contribute to increasing the amount of arsenic in the ambient air.

The definition of background noise requires complex scientific modeling. We will wait to see the models before commenting, reacts Glencore spokesperson for the Horne Foundry, Alexis Segal.

However, he claims that the company's internal models, which have not been cross-checked by independent experts, tell us that if the foundry were demolished and its land rehabilitated, we could obtain slightly lower measurements. at 5 ng/m3 at the legal station.

“What is important is that currently the whole team de la Fonderie is fully committed to finalizing an investment plan of almost half a billion dollars over 5 years to achieve the lowest technically possible measure.

—Alexis Segal, spokesperson for the Horne Foundry

The Department of the Environment is expected to announce in September the requirements it wants impose on the company in terms of heavy metal emissions, including arsenic.

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