Horne Foundry: Similarities to the Norton Factory

Horne Foundry: Similarities to Norton Factory

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The uncertainty hanging over the polluting Horne smelter in Rouyn-Noranda is reminiscent of the fate of the Norton plant in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Mauricie, which had had to close its doors more than 30 years ago due to its polluting fumes. 

The Rouyn-Noranda smelter releases arsenic into the air. In Cap-de-la-Madeleine, the Norton factory, with more than a hundred employees, produced silicon carbide, rejected blackish dust and gave off sulfur odors.

Du coal was used in its manufacturing process. A resident of the neighborhood then took the lead in a protest movement.

In 1988, the Ministry of the Environment had unsuccessfully issued an order against the company. In February 1990, Norton summoned the press to announce the permanent closure of its Cap-de-la-Madeleine plant.

The then regional president of the CSN believes that the comparison with Rouyn-Noranda is probably not entirely fair.

“We are in another era. We are completely elsewhere. I could say with nuance that in 1990, sensitivity to the environment was relative,” analyzed Guy Rousseau.

The former mayor of Cap-de-la-Madeleine remembers that the problem was practically insoluble.

“In those circumstances, we were freer to make a decision with our hearts rather than our heads. So, we said people are suffering from it, something has to be done,” recalled Jean-Claude Beaumier.

The quality of life of the neighbors of the plant will prevail. The ex-mayor noted, however, that when the factory was set up during World War II to first make bombs, there were no residents for miles around.