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Ajax would impact air quality, health: Doctors

Dr. Jill Calder, a leading member of Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment, speaks to the crowd at the Stop Ajax Rally last year.
June 20, 2014 - 10:51 AM

KAMLOOPS - The city is already burdened by air quality issues and the addition of more particulate matter via an open pit mine would put the people of Kamloops at risk, according to local doctors opposing the mine.

The Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment, which formed about a year ago, said Kamloops need not wait for an official study on the proposed Ajax mine by KGHM International since the impacts on health from air quality are well known.

"We have been asked by our patients if this mine will affect their health and the health of their children," the fact sheet says. "We have also been asked why we aren’t waiting for the “studies” from KGHM to be completed before forming an opinion. We want people to understand the facts already available - before it’s too late."

It cites an air monitor that showed air quality already exceeds provincial maximums last year and the construction of a third mine so close to the city won't help. A chart provided by the group shows Highland Valley Copper and New Gold as the second and third highest emitters of fine particulate emissions (PM2.5) in Canada.

An official air quality study is part of KGHM's application process, but Dr. Jill Calder says enough scientific information is available to reach an informed opinion that the proposed Ajax Mine would be ‘detrimental’ to the health of Kamloops residents.

“The former medical health officer for Kamloops was so concerned that he felt the permitting process should not proceed,” Calder says, noting the addition of even more particulate matter into the airshed and into the lungs of our families must be stopped.

“There is extensive medical literature linking particulate matter in the air to negative health impacts and premature deaths,” the group says in the release. “Models do not produce data. Models produce scenarios of the future that are only as good as the measurements put in and the physics and chemistry included or excluded.”

“It’s a reasonable guess KGHM/Ajax’s models will show no bad health effects,” it continues. “Existing science shows this will not be the case.”

“We know operating an immense open-pit mine on the southwest edge of the city will produce more fine particulates, they will be blown into the city, they will increase the concentrations of these particles in the air, and they will result in serious health problems,” the group concludes. “We do not have to wait for measurements to be made after the mine is approved in order to know this. It is not fear-mongering to state this.”

KGHM Ajax Mining will be hosting public information sessions next week, June 24-26, at the Coast Hotel and Knutsford Hall to show the new foot print of the mine site, which was released at the end of May.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

— Errors in this story and headline were corrected and edited June 23 at 10:05 a.m. The original headline overstated the strength of material released by Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment. The story also referred to their materials as a study when, in fact, no local studies have been completed.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
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