Bauxite residue: opposition between the economy and sustainable development

assemblee-consultation-publique-visant-modifierThe public consultation meeting to amend the Saguenay urban plan to create a new park tailings at the request of Rio Tinto Aluminium (RTA) has opposed the supporters of sustainable development and those of the economy , Monday evening.

About 175 people came before the Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) at the town hall of Saguenay, to make their opinions known.

In one camp, members of the Citizens Committee for Sustainable Vaudreuil (CVD) and its president, Lana Pedneault, and on the other side, a group of RTA workers. They were able to discuss the project of $ 275 million to extend the life of the sludge storage site and the opening, in 2026, a new site to the same panoramic Wooded which will receive 30 million tons waste until 2047.

Following technical explanations on the amendments to regulations which come into force on June 13 if all goes as planned, Ms. Pedneault was the first to intervene by asking the CCU postpone the project under consideration by argued that the City can begin its amendment procedure without knowing the results of future impact studies. “This project does not reflect the sustainable development values ​​that must prevail in 2016. What was acceptable in 1936 at the opening of the site is no longer in 2016. It refile the rehabilitation burden of the new site for future generations , besides the citizens of 6200 homes may be affected by this project. “According to her, it is the duty of the city to protect its citizens.

During her presentation she said it will not endanger 1,000 jobs related to Vaudreuil activities, but rather want to work to find solutions to develop the bauxite residue, determining a new site further away, to pressure Saguenay for it is calling for a BAPE order to assess the impacts on health, environment and economy of the project. “The region is experiencing a vulnerable economic situation. It believes that a renewed partnership should establish viable and sustainable projects by focusing on the valuation of bauxite residue. ”


The meeting also provided an opportunity for workers from the factory to present them as their concerns about their future. Among them, Fabien Lavoie recalled that the Vaudreuil plant plays a very important role in the economy, adding that since its inception in the company, he never knew of colleagues who had health problems because the presence of bauxite residue. “I’m not worried. I embarked in the Joint Working Committee. I got reassurance. When we talk of raising the current site of 30 meters, we will manage a site of one hectare instead of 18 hectares exposed to winds. I want us to make sure we will control noise and dust. The company is there to help and we will do everything for it to be done properly. The company can not do anything. ”

Alain Gagnon: “Do not do so we fall”

Among the evidence heard on Monday evening, Alain Gagnon, president of the National Union of aluminum employees Arvida (SNEAA), said he was very aware that the site expansion project is a very sensitive subject. The area covered is immense and annually 3.9 million tonnes of corrosive residues made with caustic addition is added to the stack.

However, he was optimistic that solutions will be found. “The task is not small. I found the Colonel’s recipe, we apply. We work with the company to prevent spills and keep the environment intact. The plant operates in a loop to recover process water. The new mechanical drying process will produce wafers for it to become earthy residues that could be used by the cement industry. It’s been 33 years since Vaudreuil is in question. Do not make sure that grave. I ask to work and continue to improve the project, “commented Mr. Gagnon to loud applause workers.

Several others came to the microphone to give their consent.

Other people working in the health sector have urged the assembly not to give in to blackmail of RTA. One of them mentioned that the population of the region is exposed to cases of cancers rarely seen in other parts of Quebec, suggesting that the activities related to the production of aluminum could be responsible.

Some people have questioned the ability of Saguenay elected to properly assess the impacts of tailings site expansion project because of statements made by Mayor Jean Tremblay, who said he knew nothing in the draft, which the did not prevent support the amendment to the zoning bylaw. Others stressed the contribution that gives them the presence of the panoramic Wooded their quality of life.

As announced on Saturday, the Citizens Committee for Sustainable Vaudreuil has demanded the Planning Advisory Committee not to accept the amendment to the regulation. At the end of the year, Lana Pedneault said the legal action to be taken would depend on the decision taken by the committee.

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