Health concerns trump all in Ajax report

Two & Out
By James Peters
June 16, 2017 - 5:00pm

KAMLOOPS — As my learned colleague, Mr. Armchair Mayor, pointed out earlier this week, the final report from SLR Consulting on the KGHM-Ajax environmental application was a mixed bag.

It didn't outright condemn KGHM as a bunch of kooks just trying to make a quick buck, nor did it laud the company as a paragon of rigor and realistic commitments.

The Armchair Mayor says the report shouldn't be read as a scorecard in a game of pros and cons, but rather viewed from a broader perspective.

Is the risk worth taking?

This space has said no before, and still does.

That's because, of all the different areas the SLR study explores, one of them is much more important than all the rest: human health.

Set everything else aside — both benefits and detriments.

Set aside the vibrations and the dust, the noise and the visual pollution, and the jobs and financial benefits.

Human health outweighs all of those factors, and if there is any reasonable belief that the mine may present a risk to human health, then it's a hard no.

SLR says much of the uncertainty around health impacts stem from what the mine operation will be putting into the air.

Even if it's simply dust, and doesn't contain hazardous metals, it could have significant impacts on those with respiratory issues, and even those who don't.

Certainly, plenty of human activity presents risks to human health, and we won't outlaw all of it.

But if we can decrease it, we do.

No one has argued in a compelling fashion that this particular project is necessary for the economic survival of this city or this region.

It would be beneficial, but not critical.

If there is uncertainty about its impact on human health, as has been spelled out in the unbiased SLR Consulting report, then the risk-reward ratio has swung too far for a project that's not critical.

After all, if you don't have your health, what do you have?