It’s been an eventful few years when it comes to the situation with asbestos, and asbestos legislation, in Canada. It was about a year ago that the national asbestos ban was finalized.
In Quebec, “eventful” might translate to “a roller coaster ride”. Once one of the world’s leading suppliers of asbestos, the province is now dealing with the aftermath of that industry.
Recently, the Quebec government asked BAPE, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement, (an environmental watchdog, ) to investigate the current situation. That investigation will focus on scientific studies. It’s something of a turnaround for a provincial government that was, until a few short years ago, together with the federal government, trying to downplay the risks of asbestos, particularly the chrysotile variety that is mined in Quebec.
The request came from Quebec health minister Danielle McCann.
- The report will detail the state of asbestos in Quebec;
- It will focus on the health impacts of asbestos and its waste residue;
- It will recommend ways to safely dispose of any asbestos present in the province.
The purpose of the report, which is due July 24, 2020, is to allow the provincial government to make informed decisions.
- Asbestos has a long history in Quebec, where Canada’s first asbestos mine was opened in 1879.
- The last two asbestos mines in operation were in Asbestos and Thetford Mines.
At the same time, of course, companies like Alliance Magnesium have been given the okay to explore ways to transform the residue from Quebec’s closed asbestos mines into magnesium ingots and silica. Will the report look at those processes? It’s not clear. Asbestos mining residue has been used for purposes such as landfill, industrial abrasives, and also in road and rail construction.
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