Not true. The degraded environment around Sudbury occurred long before nickel based batteries ever became commerical. The modern operations there are very different, since before nickel battteries become popular.
Sudbury was widely, although not entirely accurately, known for many years as a wasteland. In parts of the city, vegetation was devastated, both by acid rain and by logging to provide fuel for early smelting techniques, as well as wood for the reconstruction of Chicago after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The resulting erosion exposed bedrock, which was charred in most places to a pitted, dark black appearance. There was not a complete lack of vegetation in the region, however. Paper birch and wild blueberry are notable examples of plants which thrived in the acidic soils, and even during the worst years of the city's environmental damage, not all parts of the city were equally affected.
During the Apollo manned lunar exploration program, NASA astronauts trained in Sudbury, to become familiar with shatter cones, a rare rock formation connected with meteorite impacts. However, the popular misconception that they were visiting Sudbury because it purportedly resembled the lifeless surface of the moon dogged the city for years.
In the late 1970s, private, public, and commercial interests combined to establish an unprecedented "regreening" effort. Lime was spread over the charred soil of the Sudbury region by hand and by aircraft. Seeds of wild grasses and other vegetation were also spread. In twenty years, over three million trees were planted.
I like my story better.