BC’s environment minister says his government will restore public confidence in the province’s ability to protect water, land, and air.
But George Heyman stops short of making any promises about forcing Rio Tinto install scrubbers to deal with sulphur dioxide emissions from its Kitimat Smelter.
The comments come after Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth expressed frustration with the province’s plans for a sulphur dioxide monitoring system during a council meeting this month.
Germuth says Kitimat residents feel like they’re being used as a science experiment and called on the government to force Rio Tinto to use salt water scrubbers to cut SO2 emissions rather than simply monitoring levels.
In a statement to CFNR, Heyman says he empathizes with residents who have concerns about air quality in their community, but he says the permit amendments like the one which allowed increased SO2 emissions from the modernized smelter were made by “statutory decision-makers in accordance with the Environmental Management Act.”
But because there’s currently an appeal of the the environmental effects monitoring plan under the permit, Heyman says it would be inappropriate to comment further.
Rio Tinto says it reamains confident the decision to use high velocity, high temperature and high stack air dispersion of SO2 from the smelter is the best option for the health of employees, the community, and surrounding environment.
In a statement provided to CFNR it says The SO2 levels in Kitimat are significantly lower than the British Columbia air quality objective, which is amongst the strictest regulations in Canada.