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Physicians may leave if ferrochrome facility comes to the Sault, letter threatens

'We are acutely aware of the highly toxic by-products of the proposed facility,' states a letter submitted on behalf of concerned physicians
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The following letter to the editor was submitted to SooToday and to local political representatives by Dr. Robert Suppes on behalf of a group of local physicians concerning the proposed Ferrochrome facility and resulting environmental and health risks involved:

On behalf of concerned physicians in Sault Ste. Marie, we would like to raise our strong objection to the proposed Ferrochrome facility.

As physicians concerned with the health of our community, we are acutely aware of the highly toxic by-products of the proposed facility. Such by-products include chromium 6 which is a well studied and proven carcinogen and genetic toxin, prone to contaminating air, water, and soil long after industrial operations have ceased. Such facilities are strongly associated with increased cancer rates, mortality, and poor health.

Our community already suffers from excessively high cancer rates, amongst the highest in Ontario. This is a typical trend amongst industrial cities with refining and smelting operations. The concern would be worsening an already bad situation with addition of another industrial processing plant.

Noront has stated its intention to model the facility on Tornio plant in Finland, which studies have shown that that plant has hugely contaminated the surrounding area. The site of the Noront facility would be in the heart of our city and on the shores of the Great Lakes waterway with the potential to expose the 70,000 people in our city and the 30 million around the Great Lakes to its toxic by-products.

Many physicians have been attracted to Sault Ste. Marie due to its natural beauty including clean water, air and land. While we understand and encourage the interest of economic development in Sault Ste. Marie, we feel that locating such a plant in our city is the wrong choice.

Rather, we suggest marketing our most valuable asset of natural beauty with eco-tourism and promoting clean, eco-friendly businesses to locate here. Developing our city into an industrial one will risk damaging these assets as well as our most precious resource – our health. Furthermore, there is the threat that many physicians themselves will leave the community due to health risks imposed by the Ferrochrome facility on their families and children. We believe Sudbury recognized this risk and on this basis declined.

Prior to committing Sault Ste. Marie as being the definitive site for the Ferrochrome facility, we behoove the local government to provide adequate public consultation, information and to solicit input regarding the suitability of our city for this operation. From a health perspective, Noront and operators of the facility need to show that there are similar facilities operating in other cities without increased cancer rates or other significant adverse health effects. Without doing so, we believe that due diligence has not been done and the health implications immeasurable.

We look forward to sharing our views with the community.

We look forward to your response. Sincerely,

Dr. Rishi Ghosh
Dr. Robert Suppes
Dr. Peter Chow
Dr. Christa Casselman
Dr. Ed Hirvi
Dr. Luke Fera
Dr. Lorraine Sharp
Dr. Blair Jarrett
Dr. Mir Shafiee
Dr. Kris Opryszczko
Dr. Sandra Stevenson
Dr. Patricia Parsons
Dr. Geoff Skelton
Dr. Adrienne Kelly
Dr. Jodie Stewart
Dr. Paisley Trusdale
Dr. Michael Bodnar
Dr. Jonathan Keuhl
Dr. Nadia Bowen
Dr. Megan Culina
Dr. Paul Mozarowski
Dr. Natalia Kargbo

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