It was pouring rain when I woke up this morning. I was hoping we would get a break so that we would have a dry period for our mine tour. At checkout of the hotel, I said the rain would stop in 26 minutes – it stopped in 24! We had perfect weather as we went to LAB Chrysotile asbestos mine. We took a bus ride to the bottom of the mine. The mine is 1200 feet deep. It is the only active mine in Quebec. This mine started mining in 1958. Workers were using the machinery to remove rock from the mine and load onto the dump trucks. The tires on the dump trucks cost over $16,000 each. All the buildings on site are made from asbestos concrete.
The Safety and Health Director and the Environmental Director met us and answered questions that we had. The workers are tested for asbestos exposure, and each job type is tested at least once per year. They say major exposure to the workers is noise. Also they have back injuries from lifting the heavy bags of asbestos (they are 50 kg per bag). Workers receive a chest x-ray every two years and their hearing is tested every five years. Exposure levels in the mill are below the Quebec Province requirements of 1 fiber per cubic centimeter.
Around the cities of Thetford Mines and Black Lake are large tailing piles. These are the waste rock and rock containing too little asbestos to be worth crushing and milling. The tailings contain approximately 0.5% asbestos. LAB Chrysotile does asbestos sampling in the
community and has found the background levels to be the same as Sherbrooke and Montreal.
We are now in Glens Falls, NY and will visit with the US EPA Field Office to learn about the PCB Clean-up on the Hudson River. Then back home!