The B.C. Environment Assessment Organization has recently posted some new information from our government scientists regarding the KGHM Ajax proposal to put an open-pit mine on the edge of Kamloops. The experts express serious concerns about the possible effects on our air, water and groundwater.
One of Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment Society’s primary concerns has been regarding air quality, and from the new information we focussed on the topic of air quality. In his review, Mr. Ralph Adams, Air Quality Meteorologist says, ”… there is still large uncertainty in the model output. I am unable to supply upper bounds for the uncertainty except to say that it is larger than the accepted factor of two that is used for the Calpuff model.” He goes on to say “In my opinion, the uncertainty in the model output for the Ajax is far larger due to the uncertainty in the emission factors than that due to the dispersion model.” So if you cannot define these emission factors more clearly, the output by the mine operation could be much higher than predicted. Models have uncertainties – as KPHES has been saying all through the stages of this application – they are not studies of a working mine, but mathematical predictions.
The review also states that KGHM has not accounted for the likelihood that dust production will be different in the summer and the winter, during blasts and piling waste rock. These differences mean that we still do not have good information about what could be produced by the proposed mine.
Mr. Adams points out that Air Quality Objectives have been written based on 24 hour averages because most monitoring data is reported in that format. But he is careful to say, “This does not mean that there is not a health effect due to shorter periods of high concentrations, but that scientific studies are not yet able to evaluate it.” This is why we have to pay attention to short-term changes in weather conditions that could lead to spikes of air pollution in the city.
KGHM Ajax has assumed “…that the suppression of dust on the haul roads will never fall to less than 90%.” However, Mr. Adams states that “…neither I nor my colleagues at Environment Canada agree that the study supplies adequate evidence that 90% dust mitigation can be maintained in the conditions expected at the proposed Ajax mine.” He goes on to say that a reduction from 90% to 80% would result in double the emissions.
The review explains that it is not certain that the company can actually achieve the 90% target as it has not been demonstrated that they can do this in a dry environment like the one in which we live.
In the summary, he states: “Short term dust events are likely to occur under dry summer conditions. These are common at other mines and similar facilities. It is unlikely that these events will have a significant effect on air quality statistics as they are so short-lived, but they will be noticeable and are considered a significant nuisance by the public.”
This information is very important for Kamloops residents who have been assured that there will be no impact by the mining company.
We strongly urge everyone to read these documents, to learn what the Ministry of the Environment experts have to say about the application, and then draw their own conclusions.
Link to Documents https://projects.eao.gov.bc.ca/api/document/58dd2ac67fe5730019c2c5b6/fetch.
Dr. JILL CALDER
on behalf of
Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment Society