There are pros and cons to hosting the chromite smelter in Coniston and Tom Price wants to make sure residents understand the differences between the Nickel City and Tornio, Finland, which is home to the Outokumpu ferrochrome production facility.
Price, a retired engineering technologist with decades of experience at Vale who helped set up the world’s first chrome recycling plant in Pennsylvania, hosted a presentation at the Lexington Hotel on Wednesday aimed at educating the public on some of his chromite concerns.
Several dozen people turned out to hear him present on the proposed smelter and Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini said the meeting was organized after several people reached out to him to express their apprehensions. The major problem, Price said, is that Tornio and Coniston cannot be compared. There are 2,500 people living within 2.5 km of the proposed site in Coniston, while in Tornio, there are no people inside that radius.
In Tornio, the smelter is actually on an ocean-side peninsula and effluent washes away and dissipates. In Coniston, there is no waterway to carry away waste products or discharge from the arc furnace. The Wanapitei River, however, would be at least partially responsible for providing the plant’s water needs.
“It doesn’t have enough water to supply the plant needs as the plant is designed in Tornio,” Price said. “Tornio draws water from the rivers and uses it, I think as a once-through cooling medium and then dumps it back into the sea. We can’t do that. We don’t have 24 million cubic metres per year of water available, so they’re going to have to redesign their cooling system.”
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