A brown plume of smoke from Arcelor Mittal Dofasco moved across the sky and into the city’s beach community over the weekend. An environment watchdog group in Hamilton spotted the dark cloud that turned out to be a burst of particulate pollution that they call potentially hazardous emissions and unfortunately many in that neighbourhood were exposed to it.
Lynda Lukasik is the Executive Director of Environment Hamilton. She was out for a bike ride on Sunday and captured images of the smoke cloud.
“Imagine if someone has dug a coffin shaped pit into the ground, the company pours excess molten iron into these pits and if the pits are wet you will see these explosions of particulate.”
Lukasik says there’s a risk to the public. “These particles are small enough that they can get into your lungs and they can potentially create health issues for you, respiratory issues, cardiac health issues and in some cases lung cancer.”
But Dofasco claims the potential health effects from the emissions are low. The company declined an on camera interview but says a crane failure in the steel-making process is to blame and that significant rain made the coffining difficult to manage over the weekend.
Ward councillor Sam Merulla says complaints need to be made to the Ministry of Environment because change is not happening. The Ministry says members of their staff will meet with Dofasco this week to review its existing action plan to reduce the frequency of coffining events.
Back in 2014 the company plead guilty to 6 pollution charges and paid nearly $400 000 in fines.