Predicted Nitrogen Oxide and Dioxide Blast Emissions from Ajax Mine underestimated by 99.9%

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on July 21st, 2016 4:47am

Several major calculation errors in the air quality studies for the proposed Ajax mine near Kamloops, British Columbia have been uncovered by industrial emissions expert Kevin Lewis. These errors cast doubt on claims by the mine proponent, KGHM International, that the mine will not significantly harm air quality or human health in the city of Kamloops.

Lewis, President of Air Sciences Inc. of Golden, Colorado, found that the hourly explosive oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) emission rate for blasting was underestimated by a factor of 1,000 times, and the dust emissions from mine blasts were underestimated by a factor of 24 times.

Lewis has also concluded that the Ajax Application has significantly underestimated the levels of dust-producing silt that will become air borne from the heavy machinery operating at the mine, and from wind erosion of the waste rock, topsoil/overburden stock piles and tailings.

Of particular concern is the potential dust generation from the overburden and topsoil stock piles that KHGM proposes to use for reclamation purposes. This reclamation material will be stored on top of the 278 foot high East Waste Rock pile that will be located less than two kilometres south of the Aberdeen neighbourhood, the nearest residential area to the proposed mine. Noting that the reclamation material is approximately 50% silt, Lewis questions the low predicted wind erosion rate from this stock pile, stating that “an accurate estimation of particulate emissions at this area is critical for accurately predicting the potential adverse health impacts” in Kamloops.

Like many other scientists who have reviewed the Ajax Application Lewis also was critical of lack of documentation of emission calculations and assumptions used for the calculations. As Lewis concluded: “An appendix to the Environmental Impact Statement with the actual emission calculations (or the electronic file of the emission calculations) is needed for a thorough review.”

“Kamloops Area Preservation Association (KAPA) could only afford one day of Lewis’s time, and he was unable to do a thorough review of the expected emissions from Ajax,” according to KAPA spokesperson, John Schleiermacher. “This raises the question of how many more critical errors there might be in the pollution estimates from the mine,” Schleiermacher asks.

“Ralph Adams, the B.C. Ministry of Environment Air Quality Meteorologist reviewing the Ajax Application, is requesting that a meeting be set up with the proponent to review the emission factors used in the Application,” Schleiermacher points out.

“But we are concerned that government meteorologists don’t have the time to do a thorough job of reviewing the data used by KGHM in its pollution predictions,” Schleiermacher adds.

In a March 3, 2016 letter to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, Mr. Adams stated that he had “extremely limited time available for review of the project.”

Mr. Adams also stated:

The Ministry of Environment has not validated the input files used in the [air quality dispersion] modelling, nor do we have the resources to check the thousands of input files and rerun the model. This is standard practice in the review of dispersion modelling conducted by qualified professionals.

“A government official admits that the government doesn’t have the resources to check KGHM’s numbers in the mine application, and we now have a report by a qualified expert suggesting that some of the numbers used in predicting air pollution are significantly inaccurate,” Schleiermacher notes.

“This does not look like the rigorous, comprehensive, science-based assessment of the Ajax mine proposal that was promised by government ministers,” Schleiermacher contends.

“Lewis’s report has been entered as sworn evidence in the recent hearing held by the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation for the proposed Ajax Mine,” Schleiermacher adds. “And one of the key recommendations in this report is that ‘Given the critical importance of the emissions factors in assessing impacts on human health, it is absolutely imperative that the federal and provincial governments contract a third-party expert to thoroughly review the pollution emission estimates for the proposed mine.’”

“We intend to hold the feet of the federal and provincial environment ministers to the fire on this issue, and many other Ajax-related issues, until we are satisfied that every potential impact of the proposed mine is properly assessed,” Schleiermacher concludes.


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