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Oct 24, 2015

   

Industry News

Vale allegedly leaked toxic runoff in local waterways: report

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By: Sudbury Northern Life Staff

 | Oct 23, 2015 – 3:37 PM
A search warrant Environment Canada enacted in early October to search through Vale’s Sudbury offices leads back to toxic run-off allegedly leaking into Sudbury waterways since 1963.

In a Canadian Press article published Oct. 23, reporter Ian Bickis said Environment Canada accuses Vale of “acutely lethal” seepage from its smelter waste piles into local waterways.

In the warrant, Environment Canada claims Inco (at the time) knew about the leakage since at least 1997.

But the warrant contains allegations not proven in court.

Bickis wrote that the warrant, which NorthernLife.ca has not yet seen, says the Environment Canada investigation started in October 2012, when a Sudbury resident alerted them of a “foamy, lime-green-coloured substance in a creek.”

According to the warrant, the green-coloured water flowed from Vale’s smelter waste heaps onto a Sudbury Catholic District School Board property and then into the city’s storm drains.

The warrant says those storm drains flow into Nolin’s Creek and then into Junction Creek.

Environment Canada representative Gordon Moore allegedly said in the warrant that tests on the green substance showed it killed all fish within 24 hours.
Samples from the creek showed nickel levels to be 68 times higher than regulated limits and copper levels 2.6 times higher, while tests on water from the school board property showed nickel levels to be 305 times the limit, the warrant says, again according to the Canadian Press report.

Moore allegedly said in the warrant that studies dating back nearly 30 years showed waste water had seeped from the slag piles, and that the company did nothing to fix the problem until ordered to do so by Environment Canada.

“I have reasonable grounds to believe Vale had knowledge of the seepage discharge, as previously described, and had failed to take action to address the seepage discharge until a direction was issued,” Moore allegedly wrote.

Vale lawyer Douglas Hamilton was allegedly quoted in the warrant, and said the accusations indicate seepage before Vale bought Inco in 2006.

Hamilton allegedly said runoff from the slag pile was not identified as a problem.
After the RCMP executed the warrant on behalf of Environment Canada in early October, Vale spokesperson Angie Robson said the matter under investigation never put the public at risk.

On Oct. 8, Environment Canada was on site at Vale in Sudbury where they seized computers and documents.

“Vale co-operated fully in providing the information required, and Environment Canada is no longer on our site. There has been no impact to our operations,” Robson said in an email to NorthernLife.ca.
“When the issue that is presently the subject of investigation was discovered in 2012, in communication with government regulators, Vale immediately undertook measures to address it,” she continued. “We believed then, and believe now, that our actions were appropriate and responsible.”