Scientist David Pearson still has a vivid memory of a “bad air day” when he was getting out of his car at Laurentian University in the early 1970s, prior to the Inco Superstack being built.
“I ran from my car to get in the building,” he recalled, during a press conference Friday at the Vale Copper Cliff Smelting Complex. “It was not a pleasant experience.” Friday’s event marked the end of the mining company’s six-year, $1-billion Clean Atmospheric Emissions Reduction project.
It involved the construction of two new converters, which have special hoods to capture sulphur-dioxide gas, and a new wet-gas cleaning plant that captures 85 per cent of the sulphur-dioxide emissions previously emitted by the Superstack.
As well, Clean AER introduced a baghouse/fan building that acts like a giant vacuum cleaner, reducing metals particulate emissions by 40 per cent, and a pair of new 450-foot stacks that will be more efficient to operate than the Superstack.
Vale expects natural gas consumption to drop by nearly half once the Superstack is taken out of service.
Pearson, who was on hand for the launch of the Clean AER project back in 2012, said the addition of the Superstack in 1972 was an important first step in improving the environment locally, directing sulphur-dioxide emissions away from the Sudbury area.
More work to reduce emissions followed in the next few decades, said the former Science North director, resulting in fish returning to all of the area’s 300 lakes. The final lake that had remained barren finally saw fish taking hold again last year, he added.
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