Is the Ajax trade-off worth it?

Kamloops Daily News
February 28, 2013 01:00 AM

A human embryo in the womb adds 250,000 brain cells a minute. Unfortunately "thousands of toxic substances can cross the placenta and impair the process, leaving brain cells stressed, inflamed, less well-developed," according to Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

Dr. Moench links toxins including lead and other heavy metals with autism, attention deficit disorder, and behavioral problems in children. Sadly, such toxins would be released into the air by the open-pit copper-gold mine proposed for the south end of Kamloops.

The mining company, KGHM Ajax, promises to control the spread of toxin-laced dust. Unfortunately all mines find this a challenge, even when using state-of-the-art technologies. To see evidence, all one needs to do is take a drive near the Highland Valley Copper Mine on a windy day.

Highland Valley and Ajax are similar in many ways. However, there's one big difference. Highland Valley is located in a thinly populated area 75 km from Kamloops. By contrast, the proposed Ajax Mine would be halfway within city limits and only 1.5 km from the nearest school and houses. The mine would be upwind of the city, which means the southwest winds common here would carry mine-generated dust throughout Kamloops. The temperature inversions common here would trap it near the surface, where we and our children would be forced to breathe it.

The mine promises economic benefits including 380 direct jobs during operation. But is the trade-off worth it?

Dr. Moench will speak Sunday, March 10, at 2:00 p.m. in the Parkside Lounge (in the Interior Savings Centre, 300 Lorne Street). So will Cherise Udell, president of Utah Moms for Clean Air.



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