Cement McInnis continues to dust its neighbors

McInnis Cement continues to dust its neighbors

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The McInnis cement plant in Gaspésie continues to spit sticky dust on the heads of its neighbors, who are worried about their health and deplore the inaction of Environnement Québec in the face of the worst polluter in the province.< /strong>

At the end of October, the neighbors of Ciment McInnis in Port-Daniel–Gascons had, once again, the unpleasant surprise of finding their vehicles covered in sticky dust that was impossible to clean, as in the summer 2020 and in the summer of 2021. The company quickly invited them to go, neither seen nor known, to the local mechanic Daniel Langlois, who confirms to Journal having treated a dozen vehicles in the last months at the expense of the company.

This dust is visible on the hood of this vehicle in August 2020, when it was parked more than a km from the factory.

  It doesn’t wash off and it can damage the paintwork so we wash with a special product two or three times and then we apply wax, he explains. It happens when they [Ciment McInnis] have a failure, a break in their chimney. ”

“It's all in the air. We must change the heat pump filters often, this is not normal. My main question is: is it harmful to your health? » worries a neighbor who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The company denies

Interviewed by Le Journal,< /em> the company sweeps the dust under the rug, saying it has experienced “no significant equipment failures”.

“From time to time, the vehicles of employees parked at the plant may become dusty and we may offer these employees car washes at the company's discretion as part of our normal operations,” the company said. spokesperson Maryse Tremblay.

But ecologist Pascal Bergeron of Environnement Vert Plus is not reassured. He filed a complaint with Environnement Québec several times in two years.

“ On October 29, the Ministry [of the Environment] carried out an inspection of the targeted residential land and took samples of dust,” said ministry spokesperson Daniel Messier.

Omerta

The neighbors have stopped complaining as the problem is recurrent and a source of conflict in the community of 2,200 souls.

“&nbsp ;You know, when you live in a small village where so many people work at the cement plant, you are caught between health and the economy. I don't want any trouble,” a neighbor says anonymously.

“The ministry doesn't answer us anyway,” she adds.

Since the summer of 2020, she has been asking Environment Quebec for the nature of the dust and the risk it poses to health, to no avail. Mr. Bergeron's request for access to this data was also rejected.   

Quebec has been investigating for months 

< p>Two investigations that could lead to findings of criminal offenses against Ciment McInnis have been dragging on for months.

The Ministry of the Environment launched a first investigation after the dust emission in the summer of 2020, then another investigation the following summer after new emissions.

“ At the end of these investigations, if the investigation report makes it possible to conclude that there have been violations of the Environment Quality Act or its regulations, the file will be submitted to the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions”, indicates the spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (MELCC) Daniel Messier.

However, he does not explain why these two investigations are taking so long. “Since an investigation process is underway on this subject, the MELCC must limit its comments,” he said.

Too long

For the ecologist Pascal Bergeron, of Environnement Vert Plus, the investigation deadlines are unreasonable.

He denounces the opacity of the company and the State, reminding them that the citizens have the right to know what they are breathing.

In August 2020, a spokeswoman for Cement McInnis said the substance released by the company was clinker dust.

The worst after asbestos

This dust is dangerous to health if inhaled for a long time, because it contains crystalline silica, says the French cement giant Lafarge.

Crystalline silica is in second place in the dramatic ranking of deaths caused by toxic dust, second only to asbestos.

It causes silicosis, “an irreversible lung disease resulting in progressive respiratory disorders, ranging from shortness of breath to 'exertion up to a very serious respiratory deficiency, the complications of which can be fatal,' describes the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work.

Lafarge adds that prolonged or repeated inhalation of respirable crystalline silica from clinker may also cause autoimmune disorders and chronic kidney disease.

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