Horne Smelter Pollution: Quebec Considers Staged Cuts | Arsenic Rouyn-Noranda


Horne Smelter Pollution: Quebec Plans Staged Reductions | Arsenic Rouyn-Noranda

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

The Minister of the Environment of Quebec specifies his intentions to calm the discontent and the concerns about the fumes of arsenic and other metals in Rouyn-Noranda. Benoit Charette says he is ready to impose a daily emissions cap on the Horne Foundry, in addition to reducing its annual pollution. But it would be staggered over time.

On Wednesday, the minister multiplied the meetings in the mining town and took the pulse of the community for more than five hours. In particular, he discussed with public health, the mayor, the chamber of commerce and citizen groups.

The minister is prepared to try different strategies to obtain significant reductions in emissions of arsenic and other metals (including cadmium, lead and nickel) from the Swiss multinational Glencore, which owns the smelter. specified Benoit Charette in a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon.

One ​​of these avenues is the imposition of a daily emission ceiling for arsenic in addition to an annual ceiling, as is the case for nickel. The annual standard being an average, the figure may hide significant variations.

“It must be reiterated: the company is in compliance with the conditions imposed on it in 2017. We are taking more stock of the shortcomings today. And the absence of a daily target is one of the shortcomings that we are considering correcting. »

— Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment of Quebec, at the microphone of Radio-Canada

In Quebec, the standard is 3 nanograms of arsenic per cubic meter in the air, but the Foundry benefits from an exemption (a decontamination certificate) which allows it to emit up to 100 ng/m3. Last year, its annual average was 87 ng/m3. But on some days, it reached several hundred and even more than 1000 ng/m3, according to what Le Devoir revealed on Wednesday.

Smoke rises above the Horne Foundry facilities in Rouyn-Noranda.

< p class="e-p">Also, Benoit Charette is considering imposing interim targets on the foundry that would be “binding”. Its sanitation certificate must be renewed in November for five years, the duration provided for by law. The law would have to be changed to bring it up to the desired standard more quickly. On the other hand, the Ministry of the Environment would have the power to impose stages with progressively lower ceilings.

“We would have the possibility of exercising our power of control and sanction if, for example, after two years, we do not respect the conditions and the targets. »

— Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment of Quebec, at the microphone of Radio-Canada

A proposal that considers interesting, the spokesperson of the Committee Stop toxic discharges and emissions (ARET) of Rouyn-Noranda, Valérie Fournier. Rather than having only one goal at the end of five years, [one could] at different stages of the process within these five years … ask for specific reductions, she explains. It gives as an example the possibility of requesting a first check after 18 months.

We want to achieve standards for all metals rejected by the foundry, but we understand that it will be gradual, specifies the spokesperson.

Benoit Charette did not want to commit to imposing the Quebec standard of 3 ng/m3 on the foundry. He didn't want to come up with a number either. However, he wanted to be able to provide details on the arsenic release threshold by the end of the summer. Although the attestation is not signed at this time, the company would be required to meet this target by the end of the attestation period.

He mentioned during the meetings that he was concerned about the risk that the company would close if it was unable to meet technically and financially onerous requirements. Benoit Charette spoke about the 650 well-paying jobs and the mental health risks if they were to disappear.

A doctor who attended one of the meetings meant that the anxiety of the community regarding smelter pollution and its now recognized health risks could also cause mental health problems.

Currently, there are impacts on mental health. We feel that citizens are anxious. We feel that there are citizens who are wondering if they should leave or not, reminded the spokesperson for the ARETCommittee.

Valérie Fournier also says that she has not had any feedback from Prime Minister François Legault so far despite the sending of several letters from the ARET Committee. It would certainly be interesting if we could make the voice of citizens heard by the Prime Minister, she laments.

For her part, the mayoress made a point of mentioning that she must meet with François Laugault soon.

  • “In Rouyn-Noranda, we have arsenic, but in Montreal, it is Firearms”
  • Horne Foundry: 'Between the Tree and the Bark', Employees Demand Transparency
  • Horne Foundry: Five Questions to Understand the Situation in Rouyn- Noranda


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