Horne Foundry: “very concerned”, Steven Guilbeault launches an audit | Arsenic Rouyn-Noranda

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Horne Foundry: “”very concerned”, Steven Guilbeault launches a verification | Arsenic Rouyn-Noranda

Ottawa wants to ensure that the pollutant release data reported by Glencore is reliable.

Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault

The Minister of the Environment is walking the talk on the Horne Foundry file in Rouyn-Noranda. After announcing that he was not ruling out intervening, Steven Guilbeault asked that the company's pollution reports be verified, Radio-Canada has learned.

“Environment and Climate Change Canada is currently cross-checking air release reports submitted by the Horne Smelter,” the department said in an email. Ottawa wishes to “detect any errors and above all, to ensure the veracity of the statements transmitted”.

Spokesperson Samantha Bayard explains that “at the request of the Minister officials will ask Glencore for “precise and reliable data so as to paint a true picture of the situation”.

“Minister Guilbeault is very concerned about the ongoing situation in Rouyn-Noranda. »

— Samantha Bayard, spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change Canada

Thursday, during a press briefing, Steven Guilbeault had alluded to a Radio-Canada report which reported the presence of heavy metal contamination up to 50 kilometers from the smelter, with deleterious impacts on fauna and flora.

The Horne Foundry, seen from the air.

Radio-Canada also reported , last week, that the Horne Foundry is releasing 23 different contaminants into the atmosphere. And that's not counting certain metals that do not have to be declared, such as rare earths.

Earlier this week, Glencore admitted to La Presse that it had not reported to the federal government, until 2020, the quantities of arsenic sent to its tailings site.

Furthermore, arsenic emissions from the smelter started to rise again in 2021.

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Glencore says the data it provided to the feds for 2021 is overstated due to contamination from a probe. “Environment Canada intends to verify the smelter's claims,” ​​the department said.

It was not possible to collect a reaction from the company on Friday evening. Glencore promises to present an ambitious action plan in August to reduce polluting emissions from its copper smelter.

The Horne Smelter is, from far away, Canada's main emitter of arsenic.

“The high level of arsenic in Rouyn-Noranda is rightly of concern to citizens and health care providers. »

— Samantha Bayard, spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change Canada

Ottawa recalls in her email that the vast majority of substances emitted by the Horne Smelter, “so as not to say all”, are on the list of toxic substances, appended to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).

  • Section 56 of CEPA allows the Minister to require the mill to prepare and implement a pollution prevention plan in respect of a substance or ;a group of substances, within a prescribed period.
  • Section 61 allows the Minister to require access to samples taken at the plant.< /li>
  • Section 93 allows the government to regulate the amount or concentration of pollutant releases allowed for a substance, as well as the areas of releases.
  • Section 94 allows the Minister to issue an interim order to stop pollution if he deems that “immediate action is necessary to avert an appreciable danger either to the environment, either for human life or health.”

At the provincial level, the government of François Legault promises to impose ceilings on ;emissions of heavy metals at the smelter from November. For the moment, Quebec does not subject it to any limit, except for arsenic, but this limit is 33 times less severe than the standard.

Environment Canada also writes “that in the event of inaction” by the Government of Quebec, “the Government of Canada must manage the risks to health and the environment”.

“The Horne Smelter is committed to meeting certain environmental criteria as part of an agreement with the federal government; the government intends to enforce this agreement. »

— Samantha Bayard, spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change Canada

According to our audits, Glencore respects this agreement, since it captures more than 90% of the carbon dioxide sulfur (96%) and that the annual intensity of its particulate matter emissions does not exceed 2 kg/tonne (1.5).

Air pollution is mainly under the jurisdiction of Quebec.

During a telephone interview with Prime Minister François Legault on Thursday, the mayor of Rouyn-Noranda, Diane Dallaire, asked that a senior official be responsible for coordinating the management of the file.

She regrets that the ministries engage in a game of ping-pong when the City asks them questions: “The Environment refers us to Health, and Health refers us to the environment. »

According to Diane Dallaire, there is an urgent need to act. Public health studies indicate a higher risk of contracting lung cancer in Rouyn-Noranda, due to arsenic and cadmium.

In the city , mothers are at greater risk of giving birth to a low birth weight baby than elsewhere in Quebec, and residents of the Notre-Dame district die an average of five years earlier than the rest of Quebecers.

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