Dear Mayor Provenzano:
My name is Jim Coyle and I was born and raised in our beloved City of Sault Ste. Marie. I am a retired secondary school teacher of English and Philosophy, and I have returned to the Sault recently to enjoy my retirement in my hometown. However, my pleasure at being back in the Sault has been short-lived since I’ve learned about Noront’s interest in building a ferrochrome smelter in the Sault.
Two of this City’s most outstanding characteristics are its natural beauty and its appeal to outdoor tourism all year round. Tourism is the lifeblood of the Sault, and I am very worried that our immediate environment will be seriously impacted by Noront’s smelter. From my research is clear that this smelting operation is exceedingly toxic to the air, the water and the land surrounding the smelter. Locating the facility on a vital riverway is both short-sighted and, frankly, foolhardy, given the amount of scientific evidence regarding the carcinogenic nature of the by-products of such an operation.
I understand the economic arguments in favour of the employment opportunities the smelter will provide for an already economically depressed area. But I believe that the long-term toll on the health of the people and the deterioration of the environment must have precedence over the relatively short-term employment advantages. The dangers of the ferrochrome smelter itself — in spite of the vague assurances and placations offered by Noront — will affect peoples’ decisions to remain living in the Sault, and will certainly impact on the decisions to relocate in our city for fear of the health problems associated with ferrochrome smelting. We will lose families and we will see our population decline further. Indeed, when a significant number of the City’s medical community warn of the health risks of such an unwise move to have the smelter here, then attention must be paid. The independent research is clear: ferrochrome plants are poisonous to people and to the environment. To be sure, all safety claims aside: accidents happen.
One of the “Visions of the Four Pillars” as outlined on the FutureSSM web page is Environmental Sustainability. The site boasts that the Sault “will be recognised as a leader in Environmental Sustainability and Alternative Energy that has a superior quality of life based on natural environment and excellent air, soil and water quality.” Allowing Noront to develop its ferrochrome plant here will completely nullify this vision, despite the City’s commitment to “Economic Growth and Diversity.” And we must also consider our American neighbours, our indigenous peoples, and all the populations along the St. Mary’s River and surrounding the Great Lakes. We would be responsible for the dangerous waste that inevitably enters the river and flows out to the rest of the waterways. That is not the way I want my City to treat its neighbours.
I believe completely that allowing the Noront ferrochrome smelter to be built in Sault Ste. Marie would be an enormous mistake with very long-term consequences — more than outweighing any economic benefits. The world is moving on from such environmentally destructive practices: why are we encouraging them? What kind of example does the City want to set? Live up to the city’s promise to be a leader in “Sustainability and Alternative Energy.” Be the “great city” that FutureSSM — and City Hall — confidently and rightfully boasts about.
Please, Mayor Provenzano: tell Noront to find another location for its smelter.
Sincerely and Respectfully,