Tests for nickel in Quebec City air anxiously awaited

A report on the presence of nickel in the air around Quebec City's Limoilou neighbourhood is being eagerly awaited by the ciyt's port authority.

Health minister urges department to speed up release of its findings

Residents of the Limoilou neighbourhood surrounding Quebec City's port are worried about the health risks of nickel contamination in the air. (CBC)

A report on the presence of nickel in the air around Quebec City’s Limoilou neighbourhood is being eagerly awaited by the city’s port authority and members of the government.

The findings are expected to be released in April by the regional public health department, but the province’s Minister of Health, Réjean Hébert, says the public can't wait that long.

"April is too late. Limoilou residents are worried," he said.

Mario Girard, the general manager for Quebec City’s port authority, says he is relying on the health department to evaluate the potential impacts on the health of Limoilou residents.

But in the past, he was left out of the loop.

Between 2010 and 2012, tests by Quebec’s environment ministry found the concentration of nickel was about six times higher than normal in Limoilou.

Girard said he was never told about those results.

"If the ministry ... had data since 2010 and considers it to show a level of contamination that is a health hazard, I think we should have been called," he said.

While the nickel contamination is in the same neighbourhood as the port, Girard said people shouldn’t jump to conclusions and assume the port is to blame.

"There is nickel everywhere. There are several companies and industries in this sector that could emit dust and nickel, so it’s not only the port," he said.

Québec Solidaire filed a motion in the National Assembly on Thursday asking the regional public health department and the environment ministry to look into the situation and evaluate the impact of the port's activities on the neighbourhood.

The report is expected to look into contaminents found in Limoilou's air and advise residents on the potential effects of their health, while also making recommendations about how to resolve the problem.