Renewed Call for Rio Tinto Kitimat to Install Scrubbers to Reduce Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Emissions

Kitimat resident forced to move to Terrace due to asthma

August 15, 2016

RE: Renewed Call for Rio Tinto Kitimat to Install Scrubbers to Reduce Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Emissions

Honorable BC Premier Christy Clark

Mary Pollock, BC Minister of the Environment

BC Environmental Appeal Board

Dear Ms. C. Clark,

My name is Sheena Cooper and I am a young mother with asthma whose licensed home daycare in Kitimat is being forced to close due to my asthma.

In March 2016, I wrote a letter to the Kitimat mayor and Rio Tinto which was published in the newspaper. I appeared on CFTK-TV news and was contacted by Phil Geruth, the Kitimat mayor. I even contacted Rio Tinto again and then received a response but of course nothing changed. I am now hoping this letter reaches our government as they are responsible for allowing the increase of SO2 by 55% starting at the beginning of 2016.

My asthma flared in March which lead to 7 emergency room visits, 5 doctor office visits, and $600.00 in medical expenses, all in March alone. Since then you would think that my asthma may have had a chance to improve, but it has not. My family and clients have continued to witness my asthma flare repeatedly in the last 5 months, something my asthma has never done before. I have now visited the asthma clinic in Vancouver; the doctor from Vancouver calls me to check up on me, and I have to visit again in a few months to see if my asthma has improved. We are in the process of moving from Kitimat to Terrace. My home daycare is closing this month and I am hoping to re-open in Terrace. My 4 and 6 year old sons understand we must move away from our home since “mommy can’t breathe at home anymore”. We are losing our main source of income and expenses continue to add up.

Is the money Rio Tinto saves by not installing scrubbers worth causing these negative health effects on the population of Kitimat? SO2 is known to affect people with lung problems such as asthma; it is also known to affect our rain, which affects our animals and environment. What about the increase in cost to our Healthcare system currently and into the future? I am only one person and I now use our Healthcare system almost weekly. I feel like a burden to our Healthcare system because of a health condition that can be controlled and/or avoided if scrubbers are installed. It is our government’s job to make sure we are safe and you have not only failed me, you have failed my family, the parents of my daycare children, and most importantly the future of our society: my daycare children who can’t wait to come to my daycare every morning, who run to me for love and support, who count on me to be there to help them grow while their parents work.

It is too late to save my home daycare in Kitimat, but it is not too late to force Rio Tinto to install scrubbers to stop the increase of costs to our Healthcare system and the increase of lung problems in Kitimat.

Dear Ms. Christy Clark, from one mother to another, please help. I would like to be able to see my children grow up! Where’s my right to breathe? Where is my children’s right to have their mother present in their life? Why do people need to get sick, feel like they are dying, or die before something changes? Imagine yourself in my shoes. Imagine going into the hospital coughing so badly that the only word you can get out is “asthma”. Imagine being afraid to open your windows at home because you aren’t sure if it will cause another asthma attack. Imagine your whole world being flipped upside down because that is exactly what has happened to me since Rio Tinto increased their SO2 emission levels. Please do not sweep this under the rug. Asthma can be controlled, avoided, or deadly, your choice.

Thank you for reading,

Sheena Cooper