Quebec environment minister postpones trip to discuss arsenic levels

Benoit Charette says a problem with the plane means his visit to the Horne factory in Rouyn-Noranda will take place at a later date.

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Quebec Environment Minister Benoit Charette has postponed a trip to Rouyn-Noranda where he was scheduled to discuss the level of arsenic emissions produced by a local foundry.

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Charette announced on Twitter a maintenance problem with the aircraft that was supposed to take him there Tuesday is to blame for the cancellation, and the visit will take place at a later date.

The trip has now been scheduled for Wednesday.

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Charette had announced on Monday he intended to meet with “local actors” to discuss the controversy surrounding the Horne foundry, adding his priority was the safety of local citizens.

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Thanks to an agreement with the previous government, the foundry, owned by multinational Glencore, was permitted to emit 33 times the amount of arsenic particles recommended by public heath authorities.

A study published last week by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) showed that over a 70-year period up to 14 residents of Rouyn-Noranda would develop lung cancer because of the high arsenic levels in the air. The study concluded that a rapid and serious reduction of those arsenic levels would reduce that risk.

The agreement between Quebec and Glencore will expire in the next few months, and Charette’s ministry must negotiate a new level of arsenic emissions with Glencore as part of the process of renewing its compliance certificate.

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