Arsenic in the air: the Horne Foundry wants to emit 20 times more than the standard

Caroline Plante, The Canadian Press

QUEBEC — The Legault government is threatening to close the Horne Foundry in Rouyn-Noranda if it does not significantly reduce its arsenic emissions.

The company currently releases up to 100 nanograms of arsenic into the air per cubic meter, or 33 times more than the Quebec standard, which is 3 ng/m⁠3.

On Tuesday, the government revealed that the foundry, owned by the multinational Glencore, had offered in May to lower its emissions to 60 ng/m3 (or 20 times the provincial standard).

« However, this standard is still too high for us, » said Ewan Sauves, press secretary to Premier François Legault. We asked the company to go back to the drawing board.”

“Our priority is the health and safety of citizens. If the company is not able to reduce its emissions and get closer to the Quebec standard, we do not rule out closing the plant,” he added.

The issue of air quality in Rouyn-Noranda has caused much ink to flow. On July 6, the national director of public health, Dr. Luc Boileau, declared that the status quo was no longer acceptable.

In the past, the « liberals have given up » to Glencore, according to Mr. Sauves. “Fortunately, this time it is not the Liberals who are negotiating the new certificate. We won’t make the same mistake again. »

The PLQ and QS would not close the foundry

In a press scrum in Quebec, Liberal leader Dominique Anglade said she hoped the company would “tend” towards the Quebec standard of 3 ng/m3, and do so “as quickly as possible”.

“Today, we have information that we did not have 20 years ago. We know the impacts”, she declared, before adding that “the Quebec standard is for everyone”.

The co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, also deplored that the foundry is in the process of negotiating with the government “its right to pollute more than the others”.

« Glencore must meet Quebec air quality standards, period, » he said. The health of the children of Rouyn-Noranda is of no less value than the (…) health of people everywhere in Quebec.”

Neither the Liberal Party of Quebec nor Quebec solidaire evoke the possibility of forcing the closure of the Horne Foundry, saying they believe that the company will eventually succeed in meeting Quebec air quality standards.

Both parties also reject the idea of ​​helping the company financially, the time it reaches its targets.


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