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Photographer: Vale's Archive
Photographer: Vale's Archive

Over the last two decades, Vale (formerly Inco) worked closely with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (now the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, or MECP)

the community of Port Colborne and consultancy partners to analyze the effects of historical mining operations on soils in the Port Colborne area.  
These studies culminated in the Community-Based Risk Assessment (CBRA), which concluded that metals in the soil from historical refinery activities do not result in unacceptable risks to health. A supplementary Community Health Assessment Project (CHAP) confirmed that health outcomes in Port Colborne are no different than in other Ontario communities.

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CBRA Documentation

The Port Colborne Community-Based Risk Assessment (CBRA) was conducted over a 15-year period between 2000 and 2015 and was the first “wide-area” risk assessment conducted in Ontario, focusing on a 29 km² area in and around Port Colborne.

Based on exhaustive research and field investigations, the purpose of this comprehensive scientific study was to assess present-day potential environmental and human health risks associated with concentrations of nickel, copper, cobalt, and arsenic in Port​ Colborne soils. Vale voluntarily initiated the study following Ministry of Environment (now Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, or MECP) studies in the​ 1990s that showed elevated levels of metals in Port Colborne soils.

Photographer: Vale's Archive

Following the conclusion of the CBRA, Vale (alongside the City, Public Health and the MECP), created a Port Colborne Community-Based Action Plan to address the findings of many years of scientific risk assessment, both for human health and for the health of our entire ecosystem.​​​

Photographer: Vale's Archive

The Action Plan includes the following key actions:​

Remediation activities at a handful of residential properties in close proximity to Vale’s Port Colborne Refinery, such as sodding, ground cover and/or soil replacement. There are no unacceptable health risks to these residents and these actions are being taken on a precautionary basis. All residential property owners have already been contacted by Vale; ​  ​   

Photographer: Vale's Archive

Scoping studies to be conducted on the woodlot and municipal drains just east of the refinery to assess potential remediation activities. Results will be shared with the community when the studies are complete;
Creation of a Community Improvement Fund to deliver both environmental and social benefit to Port Colborne, and to recognize more than 100 years of operations in the community. The Fund, still in development, is envisioned to be in place for the next four years providing support for priority improvement or development projects in the community. Vale will work collaboratively with the City of Port Colborne to prioritize and select local projects and initiatives, with specific consideration afforded to projects with environmental or sustainability themes;
Work with a small number of local farmers to address crop yields.

Additional Studies

In addition to the Port Colborne CBRA, Vale commissioned the Community Health Assessment Project (CHAP) to address community concerns regarding potential human health effects from exposure to the identified metals. Like the CBRA, the CHAP study provided evidence that health outcomes in Port Colborne are no different than in other Ontario communities.

Photographer: Vale's Archive

A Collaborative Effort

Various stakeholders were involved with the CBRA, including the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), Niagara Region Public Health, the City of Port Colborne, Stantec (an expert third-party scientific consultant), and a Public Liaison Committee comprised of local community stakeholders interested in participating in the CBRA process. Vale is grateful for the active participation of our community partners in this study.

Photographer: Vale's Archive

The main conclusions of 20 years of study are:

Metals in the soil from historical refinery activities do not result in unacceptable risks to health. Further, the CHAP study provides evidence that health outcomes in Port Colborne are no different than in other Ontario communities.​

Port Colborne’s ecosystem is largely like any other community in Ontario, with the exception of some unused woodlots that Vale owns beside the Refinery. Metals in the soil of these unused woodlots may have an effect on some plants and invertebrates (i.e. earthworms);

Nickel in soil may result in increased risk of lower crop yields, however, there is no impact on human health from these crops. This can be remedied with certain agricultural practices and will be implemented on a one-on-one basis with farmers. ​

We want to hear from you

Voice your views, questions or concerns about Vale’s Port Colborne Operations:
 • Call our Community Concerns Line 24/7 at 289-478-VALE (8253)  

• Email

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