Interior Health voices concerns over Ajax Mine application - InfoNews

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Interior Health voices concerns over Ajax Mine application

The site of the proposed Ajax Mine.
April 27, 2016 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - The Interior Health Authority has laid out concerns over the application for the proposed Ajax Mine.

In a presentation to Kamloops city council yesterday, April 26, two members of the health authority discussed concerns about the application for the potential mine. Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi, a medical health officer, and Ivor Norlin, a manager for Interior Health, raised concerns about air quality, environmental monitoring and emergency planning.

The primary concern from the health authority’s point of view is dust from the open pit mine site, Norlin said.

“There’s a lot of questions about some of the targets set, that have been set in terms of mitigation or containment of the dust,” he said.

In the application Norlin said the mine’s proponent plans for more than 90 per cent of the dust to stay on site. He said there are inherent uncertainties that go into assessing human health risks, and the air quality models used assume 90 per cent dust mitagation, which may be wrong, making the models useless. 

“We hadn’t seen demonstrative evidence of that being applied somewhere else and achieved,” he noted.

Norlin said there is also concern in how the proponent outlines emergency response. While the risk for an emergency is low, Norlin says there’s no way for the risk factor to be absolutely zero.

“We didn’t feel it was spelled out as clear enough as we’d like to see it,” he said. “It should be very explicit.”

When asked about the potential of shutting down operations putting human health at risk, Golmohammadi said the health authority has shut down sites when human health was at risk, noting shut downs can happen when evidence has been presented and the source of the concern identified.

"Yes, certainly either temporarily or permanently those operations need to be stopped, and it has happened," he said

The health authority originally submitted a letter to the Environmental Assessment Office on March 3. The letter outlined some initial concerns and Norlin said they have received some information back, but haven’t gone through it all yet to see if it addresses their concerns.

The proposed open-pit gold and copper mine site is located on the southwest border of Kamloops. The project is currently in the review period of the environmental application process, with the public comment period for the application having ended earlier this month. The city has until mid-May to comment on the project, though it does not have an actual say in whether the application is approved, denied or requires more information to be submitted.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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