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Mine expansion camp passes inspection, says Health Canada

A camp for people working on a mine expansion in northern British Columbia is in good shape and not likely the cause of any illness outbreak, says Health Canada.

"Following up on media reports, Lejac campsite was inspected on June 17, 2011," said Health Canada spokesperson Leslie Meerburg in an email. "Food facilities, drinking water, sanitation and general facilities were well operated and did not indicate issues of concern.

"As part of Health Canada's investigation of this concern, previous inspections were reviewed," she said. "Previous inspections did not indicate any issues of concern that would be related to the symptoms being reported (e.g. coughing blood, respiratory problems, etc). The facility was reported to be well operated and well maintained."

The Tyee reported that workers who stayed at the camp near Fraser Lake while working on the Endako Mines expansion said they got sick each time they returned to the camp and that nearly all of their colleagues had also been ill more than once.

Representatives of the Nadleh Whut'en First Nation, which owns and operates the camp, told The Tyee that illness spreads easily in such camps, but that the facility is well run and kept clean. They also said running the camp has been a positive way for a first nation to get involved with industry in their area and it has reduced unemployment.

A spokesperson for Thompson Creek Metals Company said there have not been a significant number of people missing work on the project and there's no reason to think an unusual number of people are getting sick at the camp.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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