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Sudbury is the location of a major meteor strike, which has embedded a rich concentration of metals in the ground. This area (very visible on satellite and aerial photos) is now known as the Sudbury Basin. Copper was first discovered by a CPR blacksmith in 1883, and the region was first deforested for its lumber and then plucked bare by prospectors. Nickel is key for manufacturing stainless steel, and copper is essential for conducting electricity. Once nickel was discovered and extracted, the fumes from the refining process caused heavy “acid rain” in the region, killing off many of the remaining vegetation, making the region so barren that I the 1960’s NASA used it as a stand-in for the moon in their astronaut training.
The “Superstack” at Copper Cliff to the west of Sudbury, is 381 meters (1250 feet) high, was completed in 1972 to disperse the pollutants into the upper atmosphere. It is Canada’s second tallest structure, behind only the CN Tower. Since then, the Sudbury Region has begun a program of land reclamation & reforestation, and remediation and De-acidification of nearby lakes. Since the 1990s, the waste gases going into the Superstack were processed to remove 90 % of the sulfur dioxide, with further improvements in emissions reduction planned.