Open Letter From Doctors On Ferrochrome Smelter

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Should Sault Ste. Marie have a ferrochrome smelter built in the city? This is a critical question facing our community. A smelter would provide direct economic benefit to several hundred people and to associated businesses. We physicians are very concerned about the risk of contamination of the surrounding environment with chromium VI, a by-product of smelting that is a known cancer-causing agent.

The smelter is to be located next to the Steel Mill, within the city and next to a major waterway, increasing the risk to our population. Such an important decision requires that our community understand these risks so they can better assess the costs and benefits to bringing this smelter to Sault Ste. Marie.

Citizens need to be made aware of several facts. As such, after considerable research, we present a number of these facts here:
1. Compared to other cities in Ontario, Sault Ste. Marie has increased rates of lung, bronchus, bladder, kidney, renal pelvis, and esophageal cancers (1,2).
2. A 2019 study showed that the rate of Acute Myeloid Leukemia was 50% higher in Sault Ste. Marie than in the rest of Canada. The rate was more than double the Canadian average for those living in the P6C area code around Algoma Steel (3).
3. Chromium VI, a known cancer-causing agent, is produced even in the cleanest ferrochrome smelting production (4). Research demonstrates that exposure increases the risk of multiple cancers: liver, kidney and female genitourinary, lung, lip, oral cavity, pharynx, stomach, female breast, female colon, prostate, and leukaemia (5).
4. These cancers were the result of exposure to both welding fumes and contaminated drinking water.
5. Chromium VI is dangerous for humans and increases the risk of cancer and subsequent death with increased exposure over time (6).
6. Much of chromium VI waste is contained in slag ponds (4); there are no data on how safe such ponds would be in Sault Ste. Marie’s unique climate. Many of the health risks of chromium VI show links to airborne contamination (4, 7, 8, 9).
7. Noront has released details of the proposed smelter for Sault Ste. Marie stating that the basis for the design will be the ferrochrome smelter in Tornio, Finland (10,11). This smelter, which is currently the most advanced in the world, has significant documented pollution of the surrounding environment with carcinogenic chromium VI (7,8, 9).
8. There is currently no ferrochrome smelter in the world that doesn’t contaminate the surrounding environment; even the most technologically advanced smelter releases some chromium VI (4).
9. Current Ontario law requires self-reporting by heavy industry, but many of these industries circumvent these regulations by paying relatively small fines for infractions or applying for exemptions from environmental regulations (12,13).

At this time, we have no idea if or how Noront plans to address the above issues. Before citizens can make an informed decision, Noront must answer difficult questions with detailed explanations and plans. Noront must provide scientific evidence to back up any claims that are not substantiated by scientific research or evidence from other ferrochrome smelting facilities. Noront is hosting a consultation on October 23rd from 3-8 pm at the Delta Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront. We hope the information provided here better prepares the citizens of this city to demand answers.

Signed,

Dr. Suppes
Dr. Skelton
Dr. Parsons
Dr. Kelly
Drs. Schamp
Dr. Hirvi
Dr. Dawson
Dr. Shafiee
Dr. Kobelka
Dr. Coccimiglio
Dr. Opryszczko
Dr. Vance
Dr. Chow
Dr. Jenkins
Dr. Joseph
Dr. Ghosh
Dr. Buehner
Dr. Wytsma
Dr. Babik
Dr. Micomonaco
Dr. Webb
Dr. Cassalman
Dr. Bragaglia
Dr. O’Brien
Dr. Booth
Dr. Sharp
Drs. Baath
Dr. Lee
Dr. Kuntz
Dr. Jarrett
Dr. Bouchard
Dr. Kargbo
Dr. Stevenson
Dr. Apostle
Dr. Bruni
Dr. Landry
Dr. Fam
Dr. Tull
Dr. Leahy
Dr. Bowen
Dr. Fera
Dr. Keuhl
Dr. Antunes
Dr. Mohammadi
Dr. Trusdale
Dr. Hemy
Dr. Rawn
Dr. Rebelo
Dr. Jenkin
Dr. Culina
Dr. Mozarowski
Dr. Barbeau

References:
(1) Cancer Care Ontario. Cancer Statistics by Public Health Unit. 2018
(2) Algoma Public Health Unit. Algoma Cancer Report 2015
(3) Ghazawi, F.M., et al. Analysis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia Incidence and Geographic Distribution in Canada From 1992 to 2010 Reveals Disease Clusters in Sarnia and Other Industrial US Border Cities in Ontario. Cancer 2019;125:1886-1897
(4) Beukes et. al. Review of Cr(VI) environmental practices…Relevance to development of the Ring of Fire. Journal of Cleaner Production 165 (2017) 874-889
(5) Linos et. al. Oral Ingestion of Hexavalent Chromium through drinking water and cancer mortality…Environmental Health 2011, 10:50
(6) Gibb H. et. al. Lung Cancer among workers in chromium chemical production. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 2000;38(2):115-126
(7) M. Vanhanen, Finnish Environmental Institute Report 1999
(8) Poykio et. al. Heavy Metals…and assessment of human exposure in two industrial areas in the Kemi-Tornio region… Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 48, 338–343 (2005)
(9) Outokumpu Annual Report 2018
(10) http://norontresources.com/…/ferrochrome-production-facili…/
(11) Keown, M. Can’t compare smelters, Sudbury crowd told. The Sudbury Star, March 22, 2018.
(12) Bruser, McLean and Bailey. Dirty Dollars. The Toronto Star, November 30, 2017.
(13) Crawley, Mike. Eight companies that won’t have to meet Ontario’s new pollution limits. CBC News, February 4, 2016.

 

33 COMMENTS

  1. I was pleased to have a brief yet worthwhile in person visit with a long time local person with the title of physician.

    It actually was in the Station Mall food court just yesterday. I had not had time to go there since quite awhile ago. I do not mean to go waste time and other important resources.

    The visit was over the FACTORY situation very relevant to the STEEL PLANT and ECONOMY . I mean
    in the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario in North America. I was born in ITALY, EUROPE to immigrant parents who brought us to the City when I was about seven months. We came from a quaint Village.

    I was glad to have a friendly brief visit with another resident also with the title of physician.

    That took place I think this Saturday much to my unexpected surprise in the Cambrian Mall.

    He and I go back decades like I do with others with also that title to the 70’s as his late brother.

    His spouse to the sixties like her first late husband.

    Not as long her son with the title of lawyer however still quite a ways back too.

    I remember Mr. Peter Chow as if it was today as actually a colleague in a sense.
    So many others with medical responsibility.

    I first became acquainted on 100 B floor of the prior General Hospital also a number of others with physician titles then another medical and eventually others on a surgical . Of late a female with medical titles from Russia is standing out in my mind.

    She was involved in quite the challenging situation that taxed me to my limits in respect to my private public excellent health care.

    That dates back to 1972 the year I started at the age of about 19.
    My 47 years . That is a lot of regularly increasing experience.
    More acquiring of knowledge in the application of the very needed continually developing skills.

    Law work since the eighties in a practical good honest and fair manner;

    Other innate natural giftedness keeps blooming not at all for self-serving motives through SERIOUS work.

    The situation in SAH as well as Group Heath and elsewhere are challenges in which I choose to BLOOM even more in the RIGHT DIRECTION.

    My communication is really for no wrong motive or improper purpose of any kind or amount.
    There actually is no reasonable doubt whatsoever in my mind.

    My clinical where I first met a long time medical science person was on what was 300Y in the former General plus another who I think is still with the Group Health, I was then a student with the former Algoma Regional School Of Nursing having far surpassed that level through years of research that has been no piece of cake (analogy) Tough yet so worth it without any reasonable doubt whatsoever in my mind.

    There is so much SERIOUS NEED for change of the kind that is a personal choice including the right kind of assistance. There is no argument that would ever change my mind about what is going on in and out of the system by whatever is the exact number of local residents.

    The rest of the world in my mind is a separate matter not at all an excuse to justify those going the WRONG WAY by CHOICE. It is the direction of weakening not strengthening in the real true way.

    Strong manipulative wilfulness does not equate to sincerely good and strong excellent CHARACTER.

    I know that no matter who or how many in the populace disagree with me and are in opposition.

    NO reasonable doubt at all in my mind.

    I do not have time to get into what I consider one of a number of big time messed up situations nor what I an foresee ahead still not learning from the terrible planning passed going to back as far back as I can have personal memories to the 1960’s . I think of it as the URBAN RENEWAL JAMES STREET BRIEF CASE MASSACRE with many agreeing to it in I think a greener pasture (analogy) uninformed mentality no matter what all.

    That is not meant as in insult to anyone, definitely, not in the TRUE sensible RIGHT DIRECTION.

    Nor in accordance to real, trustworthy, genuinely good spiritual ways Also in Constitutional Law apart from what I know exists of so much legalistic documented nonsense and wrongful control measures .

    As time is an issue in case of innocent grammatical oversights impeding legibility and comprehension, I do want to provide clarification.

  2. It’s time for Mr. Provenzano to nip this in the bud and make sure that this type of poison producing plant never gets a chance to so much as think of building anywhere near here compromising our health and what is still a fairly clean Lake Superior.
    The cancer and respiratory disease rates are already sky high. They should already be doing much more as far as limiting the pollution output of the steel mill. It’s plain to see that anyone in the vicinity has their home and belongings covered in black particulate every day.
    It is not hard to tell which way the wind is blowing when you go outside and take your first breath of air and almost gag on the stench.

  3. If they decide to go ahead with this Ferrochrome Production Facility, it will clearly demonstrate that the people that run this city don`t care about the health and welfare of the citizens, or environment, in and around Sault Ste. Marie. This is so important that the citizens should be able to vote on this issue.

  4. Sault Ste. Marie already deals with proven health, and environmental risks. Why would anyone of good conscience wish to intentionally add more risks to our health and environment ? I have much respect, and admiration for all the Doctors that have expressed their concerns, and provided more information. The health and welfare of the residence of Sault Ste. Marie and area, and the environment should be the primary deciding factor, not the economy.

  5. Any opinions on the chloramine being used in our water supply?
    Chloramines are a group of chemical compounds that contain chlorine and ammonia. The particular type of chloramine used in drinking water disinfection is called monochloramine. Monochloramine is mixed into water in levels that kill germs but are still safe to drink

    Smells like a pool and is it really as safe as advertised?

  6. The sault would rather put a plant here that has many health risks for 200 jobs and loose doctors but they won’t let other businesses in likes Costco or other chain stores which would employ just as many jobs with less risks to our health.. how many people go across the River or drive to Sudbury to shop .. can’t figure Sault Ste Marie out ..Something fishy going on with this city.

    • Costco doesn’t want to come…Or they’d let them. Frustration over the car plant that wanted to come here, (but the city put up too many hoops to jump through and red tape) would make more sense then complaining about something that isn’t true…Car plants have many choices and our city should have been more competitive. Remember how Lowe’s (chain store) just came here? How’d that work out? Need a larger population to attract more “chain stores”, has nothing to do with city council or “the sault”.

    • Christine Holt it’s not up to the city to put retail outlets here. That’s a corporate decision for that retailer. Some won’t look at markets with less than 100,000 people.

    • So you seem to think people working at Costco make more money than a tradesman at Algoma Steel? You’re part of the problem in this city, people thinking retail and tourism jobs pay more than ASI jobs.

  7. Thank you doctors, for having the courage to speak up. We already deal with emissions problems from the steel plant and I for one don’t want more pollution.

  8. To Whom All This May Concern

    I am not in the least convinced that there are any credible arguments. I base that on more than enough sound researching. Also independent thinking with clear solid analytical reasoning from within my own mind.

    The real matters that are the root issues affecting the health of the local area residents need to be faced not dodged as a regular so awfully harmful bad habit by CHOICE.

    Those are actual ongoing generational HEALTH, SAFETY and ENVIROMENTAL ignored yet basic issues affecting this area. The rest of the world is a separate matter from my assertions, in this public submission.

    The title of DOCTOR is not at all altering my well thought out and proven both health/legal well developed innate giftedness. I did not reach the level to which I have grown without a lot of tough serious work through decades .

    I would not have attained such a position due to any formal academia.

    My long term well proven qualifying knowledge, experience and credentials are not only paper ones or book insight. In addition not contingent on the flaunting of a title. I have many of those that are well merited and deserving for those who put such importance to all of that.

    As usual my communication is for no wrong motive or purpose without any reasonable doubt,
    in my own mind.

    Definitely not for self-serving nor self-seeking, self-centred or selfish motives at all.

    Nor for prestige, wealth or on any power trips with all due respect in the true sense.

    I have witnessed far too much in the system. I do not intend to go into in this submission.
    It all so confirms my analysis of the dispute and obvious to me, conflict of interest.

    In case of any innocent oversights impeding legibility and/or comprehension, I am willing
    to provide clarification. I am very busy not wasting time and /or other important resources.

  9. I grew up, from kindergarten to university, in the P6C postal code. I have had kidney cancer and other members of my family have had cancer as well. We used to have to rinse the black debris from our deck and pool solar blanket cover every nice summer day. All new manufactoring plants with any airbourne by-products should be located a great distance away from any residential areas and waterways. Paying fines regularly, when violating environmental standards, is already happening in Sault Ste. Marie. Please do not add any additional health risks to our citizens, than we already have. Until a similar plant exists, anywhere in the world, which can be time studied for it’s environmental impact, no amount of convincing that better technology exists can be proven with science. That is enough for me to send this “economic opportunity” along to a community willing to be environmental guinea pigs and hopefully place it on land in the middle of nowhere. Is this really the type of industry we want to attract to our waterfront? Just my thoughts.

    • You live in what’s known as a “cancer node”. Steel plant. Paper mill. God only KNOWS how many claims for mining or mineral rights washing down through your watershed. Seriously. Look at a topographical map for your region; You live in a basin. LITERALLY. All of the chemicals and pollutants put out into the environment over the years? Guess who’s been ingesting them?

    • Our family, before my time, moved here as immigrants for a better life. We love Sault Ste. Marie and the nature that surrounds us. Five generations of our family love living here. Unfortunately, our health issues have just started to surface in recent years. Short of moving away, our citizens need to improve conditions and stand up for our health and environment. Our existing industry is not going away but we are on the threshold of what we will tolerate and expect for our health and the future health of my daughter and 4 grandchildren, living in Sault Ste. Marie.

      • I go back with members of your family a long time.

        I am sure your father would attest to that as would have his late brother and both their parents, your paternal grandparents. I would think also your actual mother. Your aunt from that time frame. I mean widow in the religious sense of whom I can still picture with a kind smile! Also as I can most of them. yet, vividly in my mind.

        None of my input has ever been nor is about hatred and not at all lip service(analogy)

        I am sure your parents going back to the seventies if not in particular your dad can easily recall my late husband. Also as my brother-in-law and my sister over soccer.
        The latter are still on earth.

        The root or basis of health, safety and environmental issues I have known for decades as a professional health care provider since the seventies are serious indeed. I do not mean a professional con. They actually, reached an awful level going back to the eighties.

        I am with certainty no matter how many with whatever name or title and all that who may still be in disagreement or opposition.

        Dodging credible input is not in the least part of working seriously on the solution.

        My communication for good motive and needed purpose isn’t trickery.
        Furthermore not part of any ferocious mind game nor of whatever amount and degree or severity of abuse/cruelty/hatred by CHOICE.

        There is no reasonable doubt whatsoever in my mind. Really despite in particular the escalation in degree of harm again for some time. That is both in intent and action by however many for no good reason. Regardless, there is no excuse for any of it.

        There is such a need for progress in the right direction not regression, stagnation and dormancy within the general populace.

        My long time wise political analysis and activist work are based on all that I have witnessed in person, per phone, online and other reliable evidence part of serious WORK. That does involve the real good not unhealthy, bad and phony CHOICE of fun.

        Again, in case of innocent oversights, that would be due to time pressure impeding legibility and comprehension, I am willing to provide clarification.

    • I suggest those of you in opposition concern yourselves with the current thinking regarding the land referred to as the GATEWAY SITE. I mean by those who voted in favour in respect to a potential yet another unneeded new construction in my mind. That is of a building for shelter or more entertainment, eating and what all perhaps else. There are plenty of empty places some big in fact EMPTY. For goodness sakes the former SEARS is only one of them. There are some whose usages are no more than a total waste of FUNDING . In addition I mean also pointless donations behind the guise of charity, love or helping when that is not at all what is going on without a doubt in my mind.

      Also what may be recent intentions about JAMES STREET during a recent public meeting.
      I shudder just at the thought of what messed up thinking went on through that I am sure waste of
      time and more.

      In addition not in the least of third importance in terms of prioritization the LANDFILL BIG ISSUE.
      Definitely in my mind.

      I think Mr. Steven Turco(planner) would not change what he brought up to me many years ago in a Civic Centre office area.

      He was not it seems prepared or willing to do anything about it from within the system, at that time.

      His insight in respect to a very serious land matter, in my judgement surpassed that of the others in administration/management elected or hired on the payroll.

      The circumstances I think were awfully unsafe ones . It is not clear to me how much better since changes of hired personnel and elected officials.

      As for the root or bottom line (analogy) of what are the primary HEALTH, SAFETY, ENVIROMENTAL,
      issues I shall leave it with each of you in case you might want to get serious about working your own thinking process with at least an interest in the RIGHT DIRECTION

      Why keep wasting in the pointless and meaningless direction .

      Not a wise nor sensible choice at all.

      Not in the least worth it!

      I have absolutely no doubt in my own mind.

      In case of any innocent oversights impeding legibility and comprehension, I am willing to provide
      clarification. I do not have time to do any more proof reading now.

  10. I grew up, from kindergarten to university in the P6C postal code. I have had kidney cancer and other members of my family have had cancer as well. We used to have to rinse the black debris from our deck and pool solar blanket cover every nice summer day. All manufactoring plants” with any airbourne by-products should be located a great distance away from any residential areas and waterways. Paying fines, regularly, when violating environmental violations is already happening. Please do not add any additional health risks to our citizens, than we already have. Until a similar plant exists, anywhere in the world, and can be time studied for it’s environmental impact, no amount of convincing that better technology exists can be proven with science. That is enough for me to send this “economic opportunity” along to a community willing to be environmental guinea pigs and hopefully place it on land in the middle of nowhere. Is this really the type of industry we want to attract here? Just my thoughts.

  11. So by their own logic, they should stop using stainless steel tools in their profession.

    If they’re worried about industrial pollution, they’re too late, the Steel plant has already had 100 years of hammering the environment, most of which under lax standards.

    As per 8: Of course nothing is 100 percent. By that logic, there is “some” radon contamination in the air too. The question is “is it significant”

    A medical degree doesn’t make them environmental engineers.

    • That 16 yr old running around North America is not an environmental engineer yet everybody wants to listen to her including the party leaders who want to run this country. So lets invite her here.

    • So, because physicians use stainless steel instruments, we should embrace the location of a polluting ferrochrome smelter literally in our backyard? Really ???!!!???

    • Or they will simply replace the doctors who leave. The hospital won’t care, unfortunately everyone is replaceable. I don’t have enough education on the smelter. There is so much in life today that harms us.. starting with the foods we put in our body everyday. I won’t be bothered if it comes or if it doesn’t.

    • Dayna Lynn I don’t think it’s that easy to just replace doctors when there aren’t enough now. There are still people here without doctors myself included.

  12. WE NEED TO PRESS NORONT WITH HARD QUESTIONS THAT REQUIRE DETAILED AND SCIENTIFICALLY RIGOROUS ANSWERS. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE PUSH FOR THESE ANSWERS NOW OR WE RUN THE RISK OF NEVER GETTING THEM.

    Questions for Noront

    1) Noront has repeatedly stated that this proposed ferrochrome production plant (FPP) will be based on the Tornio plant. That plant is 50 yrs old but is still considered the most state-of-the-art ferrochrome smelter in the world – the latest furnace was just installed in 2012. Despite the most modern containment measures this the smelter still emitted 313 tons of emissions into the air in 2018 with evidence of chromium 6 and toxic heavy metals like lead and vanadium in the surrounding environment several kilometres away, detectable in the soil and plant life. How will this Noront FPP be different? What scientific evidence does Noront have to back up its claim that this FPP will not contaminate the air, water and soil – something that no ferrochrome smelter in the world has been able to do.

    2) The waste slag from the smelter (20,000 tons a year at Tornio), which will contain chromium 6, will be stored in lined tailings ponds which will invariably leach or leak into the ground and potentially contaminate groundwater. As well, given our weather, there is the potential for flooding of these slag ponds with resultant contamination of the surrounding environment. How will Noront address these possibilities?

    3) The Tornio plant draws 24 million cubic metres of water per year from nearby rivers as a once-through cooling medium and then dumps it into the sea. Each year a quarter ton of effluent waste from the furnaces, which contain chromium 6, is washed away and dissipates in the ocean. Noront is planning on using the St Mary’s River the same way. The waters of the Gulf of Bothnia surrounding the Tornio plant are among the most polluted in the world with a witch’s brew of toxic chemicals and heavy metals. The Baltic Sea has the world’s largest ocean dead zone, devoid of marine life and fish. Will the Noront FPP, in the same way, affect the waters of the St Mary’s River and potentially the entire Great Lakes basin, home to 33 million people? How does Noront plan to avoid this from happening?

    4) Will Noront ensure an independent, science-based environmental assessment be performed? Will Noront voluntarily request that the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks designate this project as subject to the Environmental Assessment Act and name a special hearing panel to consider independent evidence under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act?

    5) Industry in Ontario has a history of breaking environmental pollution regulations, getting slapped on the wrist with relatively trivial fines, and then continuing to pollute. Industries have also been able to circumvent environmental regulations by applying for and receiving exemptions from these regulations (Algoma/Essar has exemptions on emissions of Benzene and particulate matter). What assurance can we have that this Noront FPP will not do the same?

    6) Ontario regulations require industries to self-report violations of pollution standards. Will Noront agree to ongoing independent monitoring?

  13. “8. There is currently no ferrochrome smelter in the world that doesn’t contaminate the surrounding environment; even the most technologically advanced smelter releases some chromium VI (4).” Thank you doctors 👍💯 Just not worth the risk!

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