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Lawsuit filed against Lafarge by residents living near Alberta cement plant

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A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against Lafarge, claiming dust from its Exshaw, Alta., cement plant has caused a nuisance to the community and impacted the enjoyment of residents' property. 

Adam Bordignon, a lawyer representing the case, says the issues residents have had to deal with regarding the plant have increased over recent years. 

"The production capacity of the cement plant has greatly increased, and subsequently the amount of noise and dust and odour being released from the cement plant has greatly increased as well," said Bordignon, who is based in Hamilton, Ont.

The lawsuit alleges negligence and nuisance by allowing "dust, noise, and vibrations to eminate from the cement plant."

Geoff Elkins has been living in Exshaw for 17 years and has noticed the plant’s increased production.

“The expansion, the production levels gone up, the dust level has gone way up as well,” Elkins said.

He claims the dust has damaged the paint job on his car. Currently, he isn’t part of the class action lawsuit but he is looking at joining.

“The community has expressed their concerns to Lafarge in open houses,” said Elkins. “They keep saying they’re working on it and nothing seems to get better.”

However, not all residents have that same concern. Fran De Beer has lived in the area for over 45 years and according to her, the sound and dust used to be worse. She also noted the efforts the company has gone to for environmental protection.

“Lafarge put a lot of money into the mitigation of Exshaw Creek,” she said. “They do try to keep the dust down.”

In the time she has lived in the hamlet, she has noticed its population demographic change from the company workers who used to live there.

“LaFarge has kind of dropped the ball,” said De Beer. “We have a lot of new families, maybe Lafarge hasn’t kept up to date on some of the happenings.”

According to Bordignon, the lead plaintiff, who owns property less than a kilometre from the plant, has moved away due to the dust.

The number of people represented in the lawsuit will likely be in the hundreds, Bordignon says.

"It’s really gotten to the point where the community members should not be forced to bear the burdens of dealing with this," Bordignon added.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensation caused by the "annoyances through the past couple of years," but no dollar amount has been attached to the suit.  

"They’re mainly seeking compensation for the costs of having to clean up Lafarge’s mess and the lack of enjoyment as a result of living next to this plant," he said. 

The class action lawsuit was filed in the Court of King's Bench in Calgary on Dec. 6th but has not been certified.

In a statement to CTV News, the company said, "At Lafarge Canada, our core values revolve around an unwavering commitment to health, safety, and environmental stewardship. In light of the current situation, we approach it with the utmost seriousness. However, as the matter is before the courts, we have no comment at this time."

The Municipal District of Bighorn couldn’t comment on the pending lawsuit but did say it’s “committed to maintaining a positive working relationship with its residents and industrial partners.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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