Horne smelter: local public health wants more safety guarantees

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Horne Foundry: local public health wants more safety guarantees

In a notice published four days before the end of the public consultation, it asks the company Glencore to make other efforts.

Doctor Stéphane Trépanier, Acting Director of Public Health for Abitibi- Temiscamingue.

The public health department of Abitibi-Témiscamingue is not satisfied with the measures proposed by the Horne Foundry and the Quebec government. In a 41-page notice, posted on its website on Sunday, it calls for additional security guarantees for the population of Rouyn-Noranda.

Local public health experts believe there are “elements missing from the Horne Foundry's plan” to achieve an arsenic concentration in the air of the Notre-Dame district of 15 nanograms per meter cube in 2027. This is the subject of the public consultation which ends on October 20.

They regret that the company did not specify how it was going to achieve the daily limit values ​​proposed by the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) for carcinogens such as arsenic, cadmium and nickel, as well as lead.

“The risk of cancer due to the combined effect of arsenic and cadmium in air exceeds the value considered negligible in Quebec. »

— Excerpt from the opinion of the Public Health Department of Abitibi-Témiscamingue

The Public Health Department (DSPu) of Abitibi-Témiscamingue expects that, until 2026, there will be exceedances “between 7 and 18 days per year for arsenic, 18 and 40 days for cadmium and 106 and 128 days per year for lead”.

all other contaminants will be met at the end of the 5-year plan.

In its plan, Glencore mentions that certain elements are uncontrollable such as the supply chain, the availability of the workforce or even the inflation and cost of the projects.

“The DSPu would like to clarify that delays against targets in the proposed plan should not be tolerated and that it is important to put plans in place of contingency if elements come to shake up these deadlines. »

— Excerpt from the opinion of the Public Health Department of Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Local public health experts also recommend “establishing ministerial authorization dynamic allowing to tighten the requirements over time according to the progress of the work proposed by the Horne Foundry, but also according to the acquisition of knowledge”.

Regional Public Health is requesting a timeline for achieving the standard

The DSPu also recommends that the Horne Foundry inform citizens of the timeframe and the means it is taking to reach the Quebec standard of 3 nanograms of arsenic per cubic meter of air, at the measuring station. closest to the Notre-Dame district.

The DSPu asks the Ministry of the Environment to increase the frequency of air quality measurements every two days, rather than every three days and even to “develop a pilot project for the hourly tracking of metals”. This data should also be available to the public in real time.

She would also like to “confirm that the standard for hexavalent chromium is well respected by laboratory analysis”. This form of chromium, the most toxic and carcinogenic, is currently not measured, as revealed last week by Radio-Canada.

A screening for cancer of the lung in the population ?

As a group of Rouyn-Noranda family physicians recommended in its brief submitted during the public consultations, the DSPu recommends evaluating the relevance of screening for lung cancer in the population, so as to proactive.

Regional public health thinks that it would be possible to improve the agreement reached between the Foundry and the Ministry of the Environment to decontaminate the soils of residences exceeding a concentration of 30 parts per million. x27;arsenic. She recommends “considering the use of a more protective test […] particularly where there are young children or vulnerable people”.

She also hopes that the work will not be limited to the Notre-Dame district, as currently planned, so that all contaminated land in Rouyn-Noranda can be rehabilitated.

The DSPu also recommends to “soon assess the level of contamination of indoor dust in infrastructures that accommodate vulnerable populations such as schools and daycare centers”. A Radio-Canada investigation recently showed that indoor dust from residences near the Foundry is highly contaminated.

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