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Langham group campaigns against Fortune Minerals plant

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 8:16 am
by Oscar
Langham group campaigns against Fortune Minerals plant

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Some people worry their water could be contaminated with arsenic and other poisons

CBC News Posted: Nov 26, 2013 1:58 PM CT Last Updated: Nov 27, 2013 11:10 AM CT

A group of farmers and townspeople in the Langham area is campaigning to stop a proposed metal refinery.

Ken Crush, who chairs the Fortune Minerals Issues Group, said the nearly 100 jobs the project may create are not worth the potential threat to drinking water.

"If that fresh water is put at risk then we're not comfortable having them here," he said.

The company, Fortune Minerals, wants to build its $200 million metal processing plant on farmland just outside of town, and plans to operate for 20 years. The company will ship metal concentrate from the Northwest Territories for further processing at its Langham plant.

The company says it will generate 158,000 tonnes of toxic waste annually, to be stored permanently in pits beside the plant. Contaminated water will be injected more than 800 metres underground, far below the area's source of drinking water, it said.

Berry producer worried

The plan unnerves Rodney Parenteau, who operates a commercial berry orchard across the road from the proposed site. He relies on groundwater to irrigate his crops, which he turns into jams and beverages.

"It's kind of hard to accept the fact that you're going to live by a chemical dump, he said. "How safe is that going to be?"

'I've been against it from day one.'- Rodney Parenteau, Parenteau Gourmet Foods

The refinery will sit right on top of the area's prime source of drinking water, an underground sand and water formation called the Dalmeny aquifer. The town of Langham, and farms surrounding it and Dalmeny, draw their water from that aquifer.

Parenteau fears poisons such as cyanide and arsenic may leak into the groundwater, or become airborne, landing on his berry shrubs with the dust.

"I've been against it from day one," he said. "If it goes as is, I probably won't be around in four years time because food does not mix with toxic chemicals."

He added he's not against the company itself, "but build a place off the water source that can affect so many people, thousands of people, that can damage a town, that could damage the whole area's water source."


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