Answering Your Questions

Living Our Values

Answering Your Questions

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What is the CBRA and why was it conducted?

 

The CBRA is a Community-Based Risk Assessment for Port Colborne. It is one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind ever done in Canada.

Vale voluntarily undertook the study after Ministry of the Environment (now the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, or MECP) studies showed elevated levels of nickel, copper and cobalt due to historical refinery emissions. The purpose of the CBRA was to examine the impact of historical nickel, copper, cobalt, and arsenic in Port Colborne soils. The CBRA was conducted by Stantec, an independent scientific expert, and was done with the participation of various stakeholders, including the MECP, Niagara Region Public Health, and the City of Port Colborne.

The complete CBRA consists of three individual component risk assessments:

• A Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA),
• An Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) of the Natural Environment, and
• An Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) of Agricultural Crops.

In addition, a comprehensive Community Health Assessment Project (CHAP) commissioned as part of the larger CBRA process and conducted between 2002 and 2005. It consisted of a community-based survey of health conditions and symptoms, as well as a comparison of hospital discharge patterns that compared Port Colborne to 35 other Ontario communities. Vale commissioned the Community Health Assessment Project (CHAP) to address community concerns regarding potential human health effects from exposure to metals.

 

What were the findings of the CBRA?

 

Human Health:

Metals in the soil from historical refinery activities don’t result in unacceptable risks to health. Further, the CHAP study provided evidence that health outcomes in Port Colborne are similar than in other Ontario communities.

Environmental:

Port Colborne’s ecosystem is largely like any other community in Ontario, with the exception of some unused woodlots beside the refinery. Metals in the soil of these unused woodlots may have an effect on some plants and invertebrates (i.e. earthworms);

Crops:

Nickel in soil may affect growth of some crops, depending on the level of metal present in the soil. There is no impact on human health from these crops, it is strictly related to crop yield. This can be remedied with certain agricultural practices and will be implemented on a one-on-one basis with farmers.

 

What areas were sampled?

 

The CBRA focused on a 29 km² area in and around Port Colborne.

 

What metals were analyzed in the CBRA?

 

The CBRA analyzed nickel, copper, cobalt, and arsenic concentration in Port Colborne soils.

 

What is the CHAP?

 

The Community Health Assessment Project (CHAP) was a comprehensive scientific health assessment, commissioned as part of the larger CBRA process and conducted between 2002 and 2005. It consisted of a community-based survey of health conditions and symptoms, as well as a comparison of hospital discharge patterns that compared Port Colborne to 35 other Ontario communities. Vale commissioned the Community Health Assessment Project (CHAP) to address community concerns regarding potential human health effects from exposure to metals.

 

Who conducted the CHAP?

 

The CHAP was conducted by an expert third-party clinical research group (Ventana Clinical Research Corporation).

 

What were the results of the CHAP?

 

The CHAP study showed that health outcomes in Port Colborne are no different than other Ontario communities. Click here to learn about the CHAP study.

 

What happens next?

 

Vale has developed an Action Plan that addresses the findings of the CBRA and that is being put into motion right away.Click here to read it.

 

What is in the Action Plan?

 

Vale is committed to addressing the results of the CBRA and will now begin implementing its Community-Based Action Plan. Key actions include:

• Remediation activities at a handful of residential properties in close proximity to Vale’s Port Colborne Refinery, such as sodding, ground cover and/or soil replacement. There are no unacceptable health risks to these residents and these actions are being taken on a precautionary basis. All residential property owners have already been contacted by Vale;

• Scoping studies to be conducted on the woodlot and municipal drains just east of the refinery to assess potential remediation activities. Results will be shared with the community when the studies are complete;

• Work with a small number of local farmers to address crop yields;

• Creation of a Community Improvement Fund to deliver both environmental and social benefit to Port Colborne, and to recognize more than 100 years of operations in the community. The Fund, still in development, is envisioned to be in place for the next four years providing support for priority improvement or development projects in the community. Vale will work collaboratively with the City of Port Colborne to prioritize and select local projects and initiatives.

 

Who developed the Action Plan?

 

The Action Plan is based on the outcomes of the CBRA and was developed by Vale with the input of the City of Port Colborne, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), and Niagara Region Public Health.

 

My child plays in the backyard. So do my pets. Are they safe?

 

Yes. Please continue to enjoy your property as you always have. The CBRA concluded there are no unacceptable risks to health. Further, the CHAP study shows that health outcomes in Port Colborne are no different than in other Ontario communities.

 

Can I eat vegetables I grow in my backyard?

 

Absolutely! There is no reason to change your lifestyle as a result of the CBRA.

 

My neighbour is getting his soil replaced/re-sodded. Why not me? Am I at risk?

 

We have undertaken extensive testing and if you haven’t heard from us, then there is no action suggested for your property.

 

What is the Community Improvement Fund?

 

The Community Improvement Fund is funded by Vale and created to deliver both environmental and social benefit to Port Colborne. The fund, still in development, is envisioned to be in place for the next four years providing support for priority improvement or development projects within the community.

 

How will projects be chosen for the Community Improvement Fund?

 

Vale will work collaboratively with the city of Port Colborne to prioritize and select projects and initiatives for the Community Improvement Fund. Projects will be assessed and selected collaboratively with the City and are for the shared benefit of all community members.

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We want to hear from you


Voice your views, questions or concerns about Vale’s Port Colborne Operations:
• Call our Community Concerns Line 24/7 at 289-478-VALE (8253)
• Email PortColborne.Questions@vale.com

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