Arsenic in the air: the Minister of the Environment defends Glencore

Forcing the Horne Foundry to lower its emissions of arsenic into the air would harm the economy and would not change the air quality of Rouyn-Noranda, in Abitibi, estimates the Minister of the Environment.

Arsenic in the air: the Minister of the Environment defends Glencore

Forcing the Horne Foundry to lower its emissions of arsenic into the air would harm the economy and would not change the air quality of Rouyn-Noranda, in Abitibi, estimates the Minister of the Environment. Québec solidaire, which is concerned about the health of citizens, demands the reduction of emissions.

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“I have a figure for the Minister of the Environment: 98% of all the arsenic emitted in Quebec is in the air of Rouyn-Noranda”, affirmed, during the question period, the MP in solidarity with the Émilise Lessard-Therrien sector.

For several years, the work of the Horne Foundry, a company that belongs to the Anglo-Swiss multinational Glencore, has been singled out by public health.

According to the biomonitoring study of the region, the Glencore industrial complex would at times emit concentrations of arsenic in the air 67 times higher than the Quebec standard.

Job Loss

“I want to know, is the minister able to recognize that there is a link between Glencore and the state of health of the population in Rouyn-Noranda? Does he want to demand the standard of 3 nanograms (ng) for the population in Rouyn-Noranda?”, she questioned.

However, Minister Benoit Charette believes that we must remain cautious and refuses to accuse the company. He prefers to work with it in order to find solutions without reducing the standard which would harm the economy, he says.

“If she demands the 3 ng, she demands the closure of the business. Is this what she wants for her region?”, indicated the Minister of the Environment. “And, even if the company closed its doors, today, the experts agree to say that it would take decades so that the 3 ng can be reached”, he exposed.

Checkup

Surveillance data on the state of health of the population of Rouyn-Noranda, published last May, show that life expectancy in the region is lower than elsewhere in Quebec.

Babies are born smaller there than in Quebec. Then, chronic lung diseases are also much higher there, which significantly increases the incidence of lung cancer.

“Citizens are worried about their health and the mayor is calling for an ambitious and comprehensive plan. The doctors are calling for urgent intervention,” added Ms. Lessard-Therrien.

Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon met with Glencore management in Europe two weeks ago. He claimed the company “has laid out a plan to correct the situation on a phased basis.”

According to public health, the concentrations of arsenic in the fingernails of the citizens of Rouyn-Noranda “are on average four times higher than that observed in the control population of Amos, which is not exposed to industrial sources of d 'arsenic."

However, Rouyn-Noranda's economic development plan reminds us that there is little economic diversity in this sector, which relies almost entirely on the mining industry.

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