Profile: Jamie West, NDP, Sudbury
The following questions were circulated to all Sudbury and Nickel Belt Candidates seeking their responses to our key questions. The list below are answers we received. -No Ferrochrome Sudbury
There is a good possibility that a thorough environmental review of the proposed
Sudbury ferrochrome smelter site would find that there is too little research on serious
risks to be mitigated, especially in terms of chromium.
Would you consider advising the smelter project be shelved and revaluated after a thorough
environmental review is
An NDP government will update the Environmental Bill of Rights to affirm
the public’s right to participation, access to information, and government
accountability whenever the environment is impacted. It’s important that
we develop our smelting capacity but it can’t be done at the expense of
The data we have reviewed comparing the Outukumpu smelter site in Finland showed that it bares little to no resemblance to the proposed Coniston site (the Finnish site is 10 km away from the nearest population, on an enormous, brackish body of water and away from fragile ecosystems and drinking water). Here in Sudbury, the effects begin within a 2 km radius of Coniston and would spread over the New Sudbury area, around Lake Ramsey and into Richard Lake and the Vermillion River watershed area, not to mention the close proximity of the proposed site to the New Sudbury water intake. We are concerned that such a large population of our municipality would be subjected to these significant risks associated with ferrochrome smelting. (We have compiled peer-reviewed information as well as maps supplied by the city to support our concerns and are happy to share with you for your assessment). What are your thoughts on these discrepancies, the potential risks associated with this particular site and how do you see your role as part of the provincial government in assisting with accurately assessing the public health risk? Also, should it be determined that there is a significant risk to public health, will you be willing to take a stance publicly against developing a ferrochrome smelter at this proposed site?
An NDP government will make decisions based on a robust body of
evidence when it comes to assessing risk to human health or to the
The municipal government has submitted a proposal to Noront to encourage it to locate the ferrochrome smelter here. This has involved lowered costs in electricity and other concessions that amount to considerable subsidies.
Do you see a role for the province in ensuring that the costs are adequately assessed before going ahead with the project?
Since this is a municipal decision it is difficult for the province to have influence
beyond the requirements of legislation, such as environmental assessments.
Noront has been able to evaluate four sites and fairly autonomously decide which site would be chosen before evaluation of environmental and health risks of the project.
Given that the provincial legislation does not have policies that deal directly with around chromium and this type of facility nor experience in evaluating its effects, what do you think needs to be done to ensure a rigorous evaluation process?
The government has a responsibility to ensure that a transparent review is
undertaken in order to reassure Ontarians that their health and their environment
will be safe.
What would you do to ensure that the entire process of production of stainless steel from
mining to the making of the final product did not cause environmental damage? The federal government is currently evaluating an updated environmental review process which considers more broad-based, proactive evaluations that are regional and strategic. That means the whole production process from mining to smelting process would be reviewed. This would take time.
Would you be willing to seek a federal strategic review even though it might delay the setting up of the ferrochrome smelter?
I would be prepared to do so, if it becomes necessary to have a review of the
entire process of production.
Chromium can easily become Chrome VI and we know that it can cause damage both to the
environment and animal and human health. The effects on humans may not show up as cancer until
many years have passed. We need more research. The process is lengthy and time-consuming as
there are many complex interactions that can occur to change Chromium III to VI and sometimes
reverse the process.
Could you see a role for the provincial environmental review process that would allow for the necessary research into setting up the most appropriate process before agreeing to go ahead with
I see a role for the provincial government to always monitor the risk to
health as well as to protect our environment. The provincial government
will review the smelter facility and will be responsible to enforce
legislation and to ensure follow-up monitoring is done. I think there is
quite a bit of enthusiasm within the research sector to know and learn
more so we would be interested in helping to fund this research.
Can you address the value of the jobs that would possibly be gained through setting up the ferrochrome smelter and the danger of exposure to Chromium VI and in light of the overall job creation strategies for the municipality and for Northern Ontario?
How can we ensure that this interrelated mining process is sustainable and resistant to the effects of climate change?
These would be jobs that pay well and there would be a spin-off effect as more
people would have disposable income to spend in our community, and to
contribute to our tax base. I’m certain that climate change will have some effect,
but it is difficult to assess what that might be.
Having both the provincial and federal environmental legislation applied to evaluation of the ferrochrome smelter would provide the best protection. The mining company, Noront, has said that they would provide for an environmental evaluation but we cannot be sure that this would be adequately followed through.
Would you be willing to press for involvement of both the provincial and federal environmental review processes especially with the inadequacy of the company’s self-monitoring of the environmental review?
I would be very interested in having a joint provincial and federal
environmental review process.
What are you and your party prepared to do to ensure that indigenous communities in the north within the Ring of Fire and the communities now being considered for the ferrochrome smelter have a voice in the environmental evaluation?
The NDP is committed to a respectful government-to-government
consultation with First Nations.