MAC: Mines and Communities

Port family's civil case reaches courts

Published by MAC on 2006-04-08

Port family's civil case reaches courts

8th April 2006

Osprey Media - Welland Tribune -

Tribune Staff

Local News - PORT COLBORNE - It's been a long time coming but the Augustine family will finally have its civil case against Inco Ltd. heard before the courts.

The case was filed in 1994 and for the last 12 years, the case has been going through an extensive discovery phase.

But come Monday, the Augustines will be bringing the $600-million lawsuit against the company in a Welland courtroom.

"We expect it to be a 10- to 12-week trial. It has been more than 10 years since the claim was filed," said Frank Augustine, who speaks on behalf of the family.

The Augustines are claiming that nickel contamination, as a result of Inco's former nickel refinery operations, has contaminated the family farm and impacted their livelihood.

The Augustines have been operating the farm since 1808.

Back in the late 1970s and 1980s, the Ministry of Environment did test the soils of the Augustine crop farm, as well as other farms, to determine if heavy metals were having an impact on agricultural operations.

This is what alerted the family to potential problems with soil contaminants.

Then the family hired a private environmental consultant to conduct additional testing.

Through the ongoing Community Based Risk Assessment, a number of studies have been completed to determine if nickel levels have an impact on human health, the natural environment and crops.

Specifically for crops, Inco's consultants have reported there is no risk to agriculture as a result of nickel contamination.

Those reports, however, have not yet been reviewed by the Ministry of Environment.

"We think the contamination of the soil is not really impacting agriculture," said Del Fraipont, Port Inco general manger.

"I think the CBRA will answer a lot of questions. The courts will have to listen to the evidence."

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