Pollution of the Horne Foundry | “Worrying” levels of contaminants in the snow of Rouyn-Noranda

The snow in Rouyn-Noranda contains “worrying” levels of arsenic, lead and cadmium, even outside the buffer zone decreed by Quebec, reveal analyzes carried out at the request of citizen groups.

“Having a young child, I wouldn’t want him to eat snow, that’s for sure,” said biologist Émilie Robert, teacher and researcher at Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, during the presentation of the results of the study. analysis, Friday, in Montreal.

Snow samples were taken during the winter of 2023 at 24 sites across the city, including near schools and parks, by volunteers from the Mothers at the Front organization and the Stopping Emissions and Toxic Emissions committee. (ARET), and analyzed by the firm Bureau Veritas, explained Mme Robert.

Since there is no standard for the levels of contaminants present in snow, unlike those in soil, water and air, it is impossible to rule that these results exceed any limit, but comparisons are still possible.


Pollutants contained in the accumulated snow revealed “high levels” of arsenic, cadmium, nickel and lead in four areas of the city.

Thus, the acceptable standard for contaminants in soil is probably exceeded when the levels of contaminants measured in snow are between 20 and 35 milligrams per square meter (mg/m⁠2), calculates environmental toxicology specialist Daniel Green, who supported citizens in their efforts.

“We found at least (two) areas where this is the case,” he added, specifying that they are located outside the “buffer zone” decreed by the Legault government, inside which businesses and residences will be demolished to keep citizens away from the toxic releases from the foundry.


Daniel Green, environmental expert

Two other “risk areas”, with high levels of contaminants, are even located on the south shore of Lake Osisko, some two kilometers from the plant.

The areas where the levels of contaminants measured in the snow were found to be the highest are in the corridor of the prevailing winds, which carry the contaminants released into the air by the Horne Foundry, specifies Mr. Green.

“Insufficient” buffer zone

The buffer zone will therefore not ensure sufficient protection for the population living in the surrounding neighborhoods, concludes Mères au front, which once again urges the Legault government to be more demanding towards the Horne Foundry.

The organization is demanding that the company belonging to the Anglo-Swiss multinational trading company Glencore be subject this year to a maximum concentration of arsenic in the air of 15 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m⁠3) rather than at the end of 2027, as provided for in the ministerial authorization issued by Quebec in March 2023 – the Quebec standard is 3 ng/m⁠3.

She also delivered a sample of melted snow from Rouyn-Noranda to the office of Prime Minister François Legault and some of his ministers to hammer home her message.

In a written statement sent to the media, the Horne Foundry indicated that it would not comment on the snow analyses, “not knowing the methodology and detailed results of this study”, but said it was sensitive “ to the concerns of community members.

The citizen groups behind the approach plan to carry out new analyzes before the end of the current winter and to return in the spring to take soil samples in the same places, in order to make more precise comparisons between the measured rates. in the snow and those in the ground.

Learn more

  • 34.7 mg/m⁠2
    highest level of arsenic measured in snow in the Notre-Dame district, neighboring the Horne Foundry

    source: Bureau Veritas

    18.9 mg/m⁠2
    highest level of arsenic measured in snow south of Osisko Lake, two kilometers from the Horne Foundry

    source: Bureau Veritas

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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