Contamination in Coniston

Further research of Public Health Ontario’s Case Study: Chromite mining and processing by Public Health Ontario reveals some facts that City delegates should have known about prior to their trip to Finland to properly ask the right questions. Arm with the right answers they might have been able to put to rest many concerns. Unfortunately, they were unable to provide basic answers.

In Finland, wild lingonberries were found to be contaminated with chromium and other heavy metals by air emissions from a chromium mine and ferrochrome and stainless steel plant. Concentrations were higher within a distance of about 3 km from the facilities. Nickel, vanadium and lead were associated with the chromium processing plant while cadmium was linked to the mine.21

Within a distance of 3 KM, we see elevated levels of heavy metals. Let’s use some tools easily available to us from Google Maps and measure out 3KM from the potential site. These images show us 3KM in each direction centered at the proposed site. This includes all residences in Coniston (over 300 dwelling with children, 755 total), reaching all the way to Wanapitei. Note that there is a City water (drinking) intake around 3.2KM from the site. Also found inside this distance are two large watersheds affecting many residents in the south end all the way to the French river. We must also keep in mind that prevailing winds blow NE, exactly where the water intake is.

Cr concentrations in mosses were 4–13 times higher than those outside the urban area of Tornio. In 2000, the highest individual Cr concentration (2700 μg/g) occurred at a distance of 1.9 km from to the southeast from the works. Study Here

Let’s see some of the things we can find within 1.9KM.

A community garden that provides fresh produce to the food bank (1.5KM)

The Park (1.5KM, play area, baseball, soccer fields, splash pad, outdoor rink, etc…)

Coming just outside of the 1.9 KM are two primary schools at 2KM. 

What is most concerning, the fact that a brownfield site much like the Coniston site will not require regulated assessments such as a greenfield would have required. The City on several occasions reinforced the fact that this was the site they pushed to ‘win’ a potential plant from Noront as it was a ‘high priority’ item on Noront’s checklist. It seems City officials are willing to neglect the health of its own citizens for the chance to provide a corporation such as Noront the opportunity to take shortcuts and save money.

Just keep this in mind.

“Now, how much can we take off that bill because we’re repurposing a brownfield site?”

“Also from a permitting point of view, it’s a lot cheaper to do environmental assessments and repurpose a site than to do a brand-new construction in a greenfield area

– Alan Coutts, CEO Noront Resources




1 thought on “Contamination in Coniston”

  1. This is amazingly eye opening. Also important to keep in mind that the Finnish site, which we are compared to, is 10 km away from the town. That’s a BIG difference in terms of measuring impact on public health and safety. Factor in that the body of water around Finland is the Bay of Bothnia and the Baltic Sea and there’s no comparing these two sites.

Leave a Reply