SLR's final Ajax report outlines air quality concerns, boasts economic benefits

By Chad Klassen
June 20, 2017 - 12:00pm

KAMLOOPS — When SLR presented its initial findings last year, KGHM promised 94% dust mitigation, which the environmental consultant said would be a difficult feat. 

At Monday night's meeting, SLR presented its final investigation into the application and has concluded anything below 90% — KGHM's new target — will affect air quality. 

"Under a loss of mitigation from 90%, we could see short duration, less than 24 hours — a one, two, three-hour duration event. We are going to see that dust contribute to concentrations that will exceed the threshold in the Upper Aberdeen," said Paul Draycott, project leader on SLR's report.

SLR said a promise of 90% dust mitigation is not typical and could be challenging, and under circumstances where KGHM can't keep dust under control, the entire city may be affected. 

Some of that dust, SLR noted, could come from the dry tailings stack. 

"We're just not confident they can keep it in a wetted condition through the continual deposition of tailings," said Draycott. 

Among the 500 people at the meeting, where there was standing room only, some expressed concern about dust particles. 

"You did mention that the worst case scenario may be two or three times, a few months at a time, at the worst part of the Aberdeen might get dust that is normally found in North Kamloops," said Kamloops resident Bill Sarai. "So how bad is that dust?"

SLR's senior scientist Annette Muttray responded, "what we're saying is that the project is unlikely going to have effects that are noticeable on the North Shore of Kamloops. Now that is based on the modelling, but the modelling doesn't take into account those spikes you might be able to see."

A large portion of the crowd on Monday night were Ajax supporters, sporting bright yellow shirts provided by KGHM. 

"We all know how many benefits there will be as far as purchasing of materials and local people working there, which will pay taxes," said one Ajax supporter. "We talked quite a bit about property values. If 400 people moving to Kamloops and looking for property, we know what's going to happen to the property values. They're going up, not going down."

However, KGHM acknowledged in the report it's unsure how the project may impact property values. For its part, SLR expressed a desire for the company to have protection for homeowners that may be impacted. 

The consultant also raised a concern about pressures on the City of Kamloops for more services when more people move to town, including the 400 workers that would be hired. 

INTERACTIVE: Read the full report below 

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