All options on the table to address arsenic emissions in Rouyn-Noranda, says Legault

Melted steel in an iron container. (Source: Bence Szemerey/Pexels)

Quebec Premier François Legault says all options are on the table, including closing the Horne foundry, to protect the health of people in Rouyn-Noranda.

In Repentigny, Que. on Tuesday to introduce the former journalist and former Conservative candidate at the federal level Pascale Déry, who will be the CAQ candidate in the riding of the same name, the premier did not hide that his first objective is to preserve the 650 jobs of the foundry.

However, he has stated over and over again in English that even though these are very good, well-paying jobs, his government will not maintain them if it is shown that the health of the population is at risk due to arsenic emissions from the foundry.

The foundry emits arsenic particles up to 33 times the provincial standard. Several health problems have been identified in various studies of the local population and the public health director, Dr. Luc Boileau, is in Rouyn-Noranda this week to assess the situation.

Legault has also indicated that his government is ready to financially support the foundry's owner, Glencore, to make the necessary changes to reduce its emissions, despite the record profits recorded by the Anglo-Swiss multinational.

But he said such government assistance would have to be less than the impact of employee wages and other benefits generated by the Horne foundry operations.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on July 5, 2022.