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Union alleges Kitimat smelter emissions turn residents into 'guinea pigs'

Large sections of pipe are shown on a neighboring property to Julia Trigg Crawford family farm, in Sumner, Texas on Oct. 4, 2012. Image Credit:
Image Credit: AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
March 17, 2015 - 7:30 PM

VICTORIA - A lawyer for smelter union workers says a petition filed Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court claims the provincial government is allowing Kitimat residents to become pollution guinea pigs.

Court documents filed by Unifor Local 2301 claim the province permitted Rio Tinto Alcan Inc., to undertake its $3.3 billion Kitimat aluminum smelter modernization without requiring the company to reduce harmful sulphur dioxide emissions.

The petition seeks to set aside the government's October 2014 approval on the grounds of failure to consider expert advice on pollution-reduction measures that include installing scrubbers to prevent adverse effects on human health.

Unifor's lawyer Jason Gratl says sulphur dioxide causes respiratory problems and daily emissions from the Kitimat smelter will increase from 27 tonnes to 42 tonnes.

Neither Rio Tinto nor the B.C. government could not be immediately reached for comment.

Last July, Environment Minister Mary Polak released an independent, government-funded report that concluded the Kitimat air shed can handle prospective oil, gas and aluminum industry growth with proper management.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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