A geotechnical consultant has reaffirmed his initial submission to the City, stressing the need for more information on the magnitude and impact of air-blast from the proposed Ajax mine.
Bruce Bosdet, an engineer with Golder Associates, clarifies his opinion on what he describes as a key issue in a memo that goes to council on Tuesday.
In a memo sent to the City in May, Bosdet explained his opinion in detail, citing examples that could have been misinterpreted. Consequently, the consultant withdrew that memo and substituted a more succinct one with the same conclusion.
"Quite clearly, what they're saying is that this is an issue and something that people have every right to be concerned about," said Coun. Tina Lange, one of two City councillors who have taken a stand against the mine development within municipal boundaries.
City staff hired the consultant to reinforce its impression that air-blast testing did not receive enough consideration in the application information requirements and environmental impact statement (AIR/EIS) released earlier in the year by mine proponent KGHM.
"They did it so they can forward this to the provincial government," Lang said. "This clarifies our concern and here it is."
Lange said council must decide whether it should further reinforce the consultant's memo with a letter to the provincial government, specifically to the B.C Environmental Assessment Office. She would like to see the memo posted on the City website for all to see, since she's concerned about costly legal ramifications once the mine is in operation.
"This is a real concern and a real possibility," Lange said, noting that the City and KGHM, even if they were not at fault, could be named in costly lawsuits seeking compensation for structural damage or possibly even health impacts. Taxpayers would have to foot the bill if the City were found liable.
KGHM has maintained that air-blast testing and impacts have always been included in the AIR/EIS, comprehensive documents intended to outline all considerations as a preliminary measure before the company files its environmental permit application. Still, the consultant believed those factors need additional emphasis.
He notes: "Air-blast, also known as air overpressure, is 'the additional pressure generated from a blast above normal atmospheric pressure.' At large receptor distances from a large blast, it is often air-blast, rather than ground vibration, that can be felt and can potentially cause distress and damage. Air-blast generated from a blast can potentially be disturbing to persons and wildlife and has the potential to initiate allegations of blasting damage from the public."
KGHM said after the consultant's initial finding that it has every intention of providing in its permit application data on air-blast impacts, along with noise and vibration effects.
Jen Fretz, City environmental services manager, said at the time that the confusion arose over differing interpretations of the AIR/EIS documents.