“We do not rule out closing the company,” says François Legault on the Horne Foundry | Arsenic Rouyn-Noranda

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“ We can’t rule out closing the company”, says François Legault on the Horne Foundry | Arsenic Rouyn-Noranda

Quebec Premier François Legault

Prime Minister François Legault reiterates his request to the Horne Smelter in Rouyn-Noranda, owned by Glencore, to quickly reduce its emissions of arsenic and other contaminants into the air.

Asked about the file on the sidelines of the presentation of new candidates for the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), Mr. Legault did not take detours.

“What is most important is the health and safety of citizens. So, let's be very clear, if there is no plan tabled by the company to reduce emissions to a level that is safe for the population, we are not effectively ruling out closing the company. . »

—François Legault

The Prime Minister repeated his remarks a few hours later, adding: What I understand is that the company is ready to invest, they are asking us for help from the government, so he there are discussions taking place. But one of two things: either they reduce emissions to a level that respects the health of citizens, or unfortunately the company will have to close. There will be no compromise for the health of citizens.

The Horne Foundry is currently working on the VELOX project, a new technology that would reduce emissions by 10 to 40%.

We have taken note of the comments made by the Prime Minister. We do not want to close the foundry and it is not our will because we are continuing to collaborate with the government authorities. We are engaged in a process of major transformation of our facilities, which will make this 95-year-old foundry one of the most modern in the industry. We are determined to improve the situation by reducing our emissions. We are convinced that what we are proposing will respond to the concerns expressed, said Cindy Caouette, Superintendent, Communications and Community Relations, by email.

Discussions are also continuing with a view to renewing the company's clean-up certificate. The certificate currently in effect allows Glencore to emit up to 33 times more arsenic into the air than the provincial standard.

For its part, the Order of Quebec chemists expresses concern about the management of the air contamination file by arsenic in Rouyn-Noranda.

The withdrawal of Glencore, owner of the Horne Foundry, from the monitoring committee of the biomonitoring study carried out in 2018 is also a source of concern.

This study reported a 3.7 times higher exposure to arsenic among young children in the Notre-Dame district, located very close to the factory than in children not exposed to similar industrial source pollution. we feel challenged at this level. We are also questioned about the entire procedure that was followed, whether in terms of sampling, analysis, interpretation of results, etc. We would like to make sure that competent chemists were part of this group,” says the president of the Order, Michel Alsayegh.

An expected visit

National Public Health Director Dr. Luc Boileau is visiting Rouyn-Noranda today (Tuesday). He will meet with the biomonitoring committee in the evening, then with media representatives on Wednesday morning.

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