Sudbury Soils Study 2008 – Commentary by Rick Grylls – President of Mine Mill 598/CAW

Rick Grylls - President of Mine Mill 598/CAWAs a citizen of the area since 1952 and an employee of mining since 1969, I have experienced the changes of time here in Sudbury.

The changes have come only by the blood, sweat and tears of a community that endured the most destructive carnage of lost lives in the mines, mills, smelters and refinery, all the while living surrounded by an environment of a dead and bleak landscape from years of hideous industrial pollution.

I have been on the front lines of representation of the employees since 1973, as a Steward, Health and Safety member, Executive Board member and the last seven years as the senior officer, the President of Mine Mill 598/CAW.

The changes within the workplace and within the community have always been opposed by the companies as too expensive or not needed. The re-greening of Sudbury, the safety standards within the industry, and the betterment of our community has always had an allied relationship with workers collective strength of their union.

I have a front seat within our community and in using material from the Sudbury Soil Study and other sources, I have prepared this statement.  It is not easy to put into a few words the context or my conclusion of the study, which can be found at

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International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) – An Introduction

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) is a CEO-led industry group that addresses key priorities and emerging issues within the minerals sector. It seeks to play a leading role by promoting good practice and improved performance internationally and across different commodities. ICMM provides a platform for industry and other key stakeholders to share …

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Rick Grylls – Local 598 President – Disputes Sudbury Soil Study by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

Rick Grylls - Local 598/CAW President“This study is in no way associated to the previous 100 years of health risks and exposures from the 100 million tons of pollutants our historical Sudbury citizens faced and the effects it might have caused, which citizens personally live with today.” Rick Grylls President, Local 598/CAW Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union

The debate is not over. Comments regarding the Sudbury Soil Study are still coming in. Rick Grylls, Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union, Local 598/CAW president, released a 13-page letter earlier this month disputing the study’s terms of reference.

“I was informed that the technical committee, the decision making body of the Sudbury Soil Study, discussed my letter at their last meeting on Thursday,” said Grylls.

According to Grylls, the real flaw in the Sudbury Soil Study is that the terms of reference for the research were already set before union representatives were able to participate in the study as observers.

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Pollution Prevention Avoids Future Problems – (Digging Through the Sudbury Soils Study) – By Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

Designing Out Trouble

(Final instalment of a four-part series) Sudbury Soils Study

Both Vale Inco and Xstrata have committed to being part of the solution and not the problem. They said that in a joint news release on May 13 after the release of the Sudbury Soil Study Human Risk Assessment.

The first necessity is better information about what emissions, such as dust, are being released.

Before the Sudbury Soils Study, the Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE) conducted monitoring of air emissions at Nickel Street in Copper Cliff and Lisgar Street in Sudbury. In 2003, both companies agreed to fund an expanded air monitoring program, including samples of particulate matter (PM10) which is thought to be more relevant for inhalation into a persons’ lungs. In 10 locations, 20 monitors were set up. That data was used in the Sudbury Soil Study.

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Lead: It Will Follow (Digging Through the Sudbury Soil Study)-By Janet Gibson

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Janet Gibson’s article.

What people can do to reduce their exposure to this toxic heavy metal

(Third instalment of a four-part series) Sudbury Soils Study


The average citizen can get lost reading the $10 million Sudbury Soils Study, which sits in three volumes on a shelf at your local library. But it’s worth the read if you take a proactive attitude toward your health. Volume 2 is the human health risk assessment, done to find out if residents’ health was at risk from exposure to the soil, air, drinking water or food. Consultant Chris Wren and his colleagues concluded there were “no unacceptable health risks predicted for exposure to four of the six chemicals studied: arsenic, copper, cobalt and selenium.”

As for the other two chemicals – nickel and lead – “the study calculated a minimal risk of respiratory inflammation from lifetime exposures to airborne nickel in Copper Cliff and the west portion of Sudbury Centre.” As well, “there’s a potential risk for young children living in Copper Cliff, Coniston, Falconbridge and Sudbury Centre due to levels of lead in some soil samples and indoor dust.”

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Seven lives 70 Questions (Digging Through the Sudbury Soil Study) – Janet Gibson

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Janet Gibson’s article.

Citizens Speak Out About Soil Study

(second instalment of a four-part series) Sudbury Soils Study


In 1986, Copper Cliff resident Silvana Oppedisano hung the laundry out to dry in the backyard of the family home on Serpentine Street. That afternoon, her husband Pat found a hole in one of the bedsheets.
“Ever since that day, there’s been no more clothesline outside,” Pat said. The hole, he said, was caused by fallout from the chimney at the Inco smelter. “That’s the way it is,” he said. “The wind shifts every which way.”

Pat, an affable barber, said people aren’t talking about the Sudbury Soils Study released two weeks ago. But he’s interested in reading it if he can find out where it is. “We know the soil’s contaminated,” he said. “Are we happy? No. The question is, ‘What can we do about it?’ Because you can’t live in a place like this without it being contaminated.”

The $10 million study, paid for by mining giants Vale Inco and Xstrata, said there were “no unacceptable health risks predicted for exposure to four of the six chemicals of concern studied: arsenic, copper, cobalt and selenim. The risk calculated for typical exposure to lead throughout the Greater Sudbury area is within acceptable benchmarks for protection of human health.

However, lead levels in some soil samples indicated a potential risk for young children in Copper Cliff, Coniston, Falconbridge and Sudbury Centre.” Pat said things have changed in Copper Cliff since 1961, when he first moved there. Some days in the 60s, he said, “you couldn’t see across the street.”

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Digging Through the Sudbury Soils Study – By Bill Bradley

Copper Cliff Roast Yards - CGS Libraries and Museums Historical DatabaseNorthern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

A Primer on the Study, the Process and the Players Involved

(First instalment of a four-part series)

There is some excellent information on the history of mining activities in the Sudbury area in the first background study of the Sudbury Soil Study finished in January 2008, that can be downloaded at their website. Visit Sudbury Soils Study. Copies for public viewing are available at public libraries and post-secondary institutions.

Here are some highlights and quotes from the study that indicate the extent of the devastation of the Sudbury area:

  • Roasting yards were an early method of separating valuable minerals from rock. The first roast yard, where crushed ore from pits was piled on beds of cordwood, was built in Dec. 1886. Between 1890 and 1930, 28 million tonnes of ore was smelted primarily in the open. After 1920, ore was mechanically smelted indoors. Until the process stopped in 1929, “they released about 10 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide at ground level, killing plants and acidifying soils…open-bed roasting was a cheap but ultimately inefficient method, as it allowed some of the nickel and copper to be washed into the soil by rains.” In 1916 one former resident of the community near the O’Donnell roast yard said there were days when “I could not see my hand in front of my face.”
  • The wartime surge in nickel production in 1916, “increased the volume of noxious gases that wafted from the roast beds into the gardens and fields of the Sudbury basin.” Agriculture in the Blezard Valley was being smothered by the 600,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide emitted annually by the nickel companies. “In 1916, after successive years of ruined crops, the farmers had had enough, forcing Canadian Copper to pay $137,398 for smoke damages in the year ending March 31, 1916.”
  • As the landscape deteriorated around the smelters, effects of emissions could no longer be ignored. Early studies dealt with sulphur dioxide emissions. “Not until the late 1960s did the focus expand to include metal contamination and acidification of the soils. At that time, studies by local foresters and ecologists showed that soil acidity and concentrations of copper and nickel were elevated in the same areas where sulphur dioxide damage had been measured.”

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Global Reporting Initiative

The following information came from the Global Reporting Initiative website: The Global Reporting Initiative is a large multi-stakeholder network of thousands of experts, in dozens of countries worldwide, who participate in GRI’s working groups and governance bodies, use the GRI Guidelines to report, access information in GRI-based reports, or contribute to develop the Reporting Framework …

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Vale Inco President and Chief Executive Officer Murilo Ferreira on Sustainability

Vale Inco President and CEO Murilo FerreiraThe following excerpt by Vale Inco President and Chief Executive Officer Murilo Ferreira is from the Vale Inco sustainability report released last summer. The full report is available at: Toward Sustainability


At CVRD Inco, we believe that our journey toward sustainability involves operating in a responsible manner to our employees and other stakeholders, the natural environment and the communities where we operate.

As a responsible employer, we are committed to treating our employees with dignity and respect, providing opportunities for career development and fulfillment, and always placing safety above all else. In the coming year, we will continue to work diligently as we strive to integrate the people, cultures, policies and guidelines of the former Inco with those of our parent company CVRD.

The year 2006 saw significant accomplishments in safety. For instance, year on-year we achieved an eight per cent reduction in disabling injury frequency worldwide in 2006.

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Mine Rehabilitation in Ontario – By Chris Hodgson

Ed Cocchiarella, Manager Environment Ontario Operations, Vale Inco; Michael Gravelle, MNDM Minister; Gordon Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario; and Chris Hodgson, OMA President
 The Ontario Mining Association represents companies for which environmental stewardship is a cornerstone value. Our members realize that their success depends largely on their ability to help establish healthy communities and sustainable environments in the areas where they operate.

The economic sustainability that mining engenders is often the first thing that comes to mind. Indeed, in northern Ontario in particular, there is little need to explain that mining operations play a vital role in the local economy and community life, often bringing in the investment that leads to the development of essential infrastructure and job creation. A recent University of Toronto study brought this home to a wider audience.

It concluded that the contribution of a single representative mine can have an impressive effect on employment and economic output, and that a large proportion of the benefits stay in the local area.

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