Edmonton – Increasing the size of a gypsum pile at a fertilizer plant will put the health of those living nearby at risk, nine Fort Saskatchewan families will argue Monday morning.
Agrium wants to expand its gypsum pile, which covers 1.7 square-kilometres and is about 30 metres high, by about 1.2 square-kilometres. The gypsum contains fluoride, which residents say is already poisoning their cattle, and which they believe is unsafe for them.
Cindy Marquardt says they tested the fluoride level in the teeth of their cattle and children, finding levels that are considered high. She says the teeth are decaying.
“It scares me a lot and, to me, if the animals can get it, what is stopping us from getting it,” she said. “And it petrifies me to think that [my children] could have something wrong with them and we have no control.”
Marquardt says the long-term effects of fluoride poisoning include problems with the skeletal system, brittle bones and respiratory problems.
Agrium says the test results aren’t a surprise, but feel the plant’s neighbours aren’t at risk.
“Based on fluoride risk assessment that we’ve done, we don’t see that there is a human health impact associated with fluoride,” an Agrium spokesperson said.
The families will make their case before the Natural Resources Conservation board Monday morning.