Dust Problems in Peterborough?

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on November 21st, 2012 2:59am

It seems as though they are having some dust problems in Peterborough Ontario. We have obtained a letter send from the Peterborough County-City Health Unit that was sent out to all residents of Peterborough in August, 2012 discussing the rise in dust levels and the reasoning behind it as well as the consequences.   The nearby Unimin mine has been identified as the source of the elevated dust levels and they are (at the time of the writing of this letter) working with the mine to help stop the issue. The complete letter is here, and we've provided our analysis below. 

Here are a couple excerpts we would like to share with you from the letter:

Preliminary air monitoring results from the Ministry of Environment (MOE) have demonstrated that levels of dust have periodically exceeded jurisdictional standards. This level of air pollution can be associated with eye, nose and throat irritation as well as other respiratory symptoms and may aggravate pre-existing lung conditions such as asthma.

The MOE explains that it does exceed jurisdictional standards, and can be associated with eye, nose, and throat irritation as well as other respiratory symptoms that can aggravate conditions like asthma. Mine proponents have often told us that the mine dust won't have any impact on peopel with asthma and that air pollution will never exceed standards outlined by the province... if that's the case, perhaps KGHM Ajax can go help al these other mines deal with their dust control issues, because they clearly must know something that no one else does!


Why is there more dust in the air this year?

Because of dry conditions and a growing pile of tailings, it appears that since March of this year there has been noticeably more dust than usual downwind from the tailing ponds. Residents of Kasshabog Lake and Bottle Lake have documented dust events that appear as dust storms, and result in deposited dust. Extensive air monitoring and testing of this dust by the Ministry of Environment (MOE) confirm that it comes from the Unimin mine.

This is quite concerning. The dry conditions and growing pile of tailings at the Unimin mine are what contribute to the elevated dust levels... we have, in Kamloops, one of the driest climates in all of Canada, and our tailings piles will be at the top of the mountain range near the south of Kamloops. What are the chances that the prevailing wind from that part of the city would blow the tailings towards town? We're not experts, but we expect it to be quite likely. 


Are there impacts of the dust on human health?

Exposure to this dust has the potential to cause adverse health effects, especially for individuals with underlying respiratory or cardiovascular conditions. At the Health Unit’s request, Public Health Ontario has conducted a literature review on particulate matter exposures originating from mines and other sources of dust from rocks and soils and their impact on human health. There is limited research available; however, the studies do show an association between exposure to dust and acute respiratory symptoms such as cough, wheeze and nasal irritation. A few studies show an association with asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) and admission to hospital for respiratory symptoms.

Individuals with chronic respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, including asthma, may find that their conditions are exacerbated by dust in the air.

A number of residents have reported health concerns. The Health Unit has received 26 witness statements in which a variety of health concerns have been identified, mainly associated with eye and upper-airway irritation including coughing, irritation of nose and throat and difficulty breathing. Residents with pre-existing respiratory and cardiovascular conditions have reported that their symptoms are worsened during times of high dust exposure.

Surely, the mine will address these details in their permit application, and how they'll deal with dust, but we ask, why is it so hard for other places to control their dust, when KGHM Ajax seems to think it won't be an issue at all... perhaps that's why the doctors of Kamloops are not sold on the mine.

Lastly, the Unimin Mine quarry operation produces 2,500 tons per day of rock, while the Ajax mine will be more than 100 times that much rock volume per day. So any dust issues that are happening at the Unimin mine in Ontario would be much worse should that same problem happen here. Can KGHM Ajax guarantee that this won't happen? 



Steve on 2012-12-23 07:41:46

I'm from Peterborough and haven't really noticed any increasing dust issues first hand, but my wife is particularly sensitive to dust allergens and she has been having a tougher time over the last several months. I wonder if it too could be due to this? Either way I am happy that it's being looked into. Steve

Robert Stellings on 2013-02-27 08:56:53

I live near this mine corp.near Peterborough On. You and your children will pay with your health,

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