Over 70 toxic sites threaten in the Montérégie region

News 10 January, 2018
  • Photo archive
    This aerial image shows the site to be contaminated lagoons of Mercier, where tons of pollutants have been accumulated since 1968. In addition to storage area, the place has hosted an incinerator of hazardous waste. It was closed in 2011.

    Anne Caroline Desplanques

    Tuesday, 9 January, 2018 22:58

    Tuesday, 9 January, 2018 22:58

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    The drinking water of 300,000 people residing between Beauharnois and Longueuil is threatened by more than 70 toxic sites in the full knowledge of the authorities, to denounce organizations.

    This is what reveals a report by the SCABRIC, an organization dedicated to the improvement and conservation of the quality of the water and soil of the watershed of the Châteauguay river.

    The document identifies 26 sites whose groundwater is contaminated, 17 sites of storage and treatment of hazardous materials, an incinerator of hazardous waste and 23 places of storage of waste snow.

    This countdown will add eight contaminated sites on the indigenous territory of Kahnawake.

    “All of these locations imply a risk of contamination of water, whether surface or groundwater,” warns the SCABRIC.

    The organization is interested in a sector of the Montérégie region called “Zone” Châteauguay “, which covers an area of 2410 km2, or five times the island of Montreal, between the u.s. border and the borough of Saint-Hubert in Longueuil, quebec.


    The SCABRIC account on its territory the worst contaminated site in Quebec : the lagoons of Mercier. The pollution accumulated since 1968 to this place condemns the artesian wells on more than 30 km2 of the surrounding.

    “The Montérégie region of Quebec, except for the Nord-du-Québec and its mining sites, where there is the most contaminated sites,” says the écotoxicologue Daniel Green, of the Society to overcome pollution.

    “It is a rather urban, which may explain why the number of sites,” adds Antoine Verville, director of the Regroupement des organismes de bassins versants du Québec.

    The problem is that the “Area of Chateauguay” is “one of the most important areas of recharge to the water table in Quebec,” says Mr. Green.

    In other words, the contaminants that accumulate in the soil to glide easily into the ground water.

    Inaction on the part of Quebec

    Alain Saladzius, the Rivers Foundation, deplores the inaction of Quebec with respect to this portrait-toxic.

    Photo courtesy

    Alain Saladzius
    Rivers Foundation

    “The ministry of the Environment has the knowledge of what is going wrong, but it stops there,” critique-t-il.

    Data compiled by the SCABRIC come into effect in the ministry of the Environment itself. The ministry, however, lacks of human and financial resources for action on the ground, laments Mr. Saladzius.

    When the polluter goes bankrupt, the taxpayer bails out

    The State is afraid to push polluters into bankruptcy by demanding that they décontaminent of their land, or by imposing fines too harsh, writes the écotoxicologue Daniel Green, of the Society to overcome pollution.

    The mayor of Mercier, Lise Michaud, confirms. It is particularly concerned with the sand at the end of operations on its territory, which became, she said, in clandestine dumps.

    Photo Ben Pelosse

    Lise Michaud
    Mayor Mercier

    Note to taxpayers

    “There are trucks that come in there permanently,” says Ms. Michaud. The ministry of the Environment has evidence that there are spills of contaminants, but he said that if he told them to clean up, they will go bankrupt. “

    Mr. Green explained that when a polluter goes bankrupt, its contaminated land becomes an orphan. The State becomes the owner and has the responsibility for the clean up, which can cost millions of dollars to taxpayers.

    This is for example the case in Saint-Isidore, where Ottawa will spend more than$ 25 Million for the rehabilitation of a dump site abandoned, which is a threat to the drinking water, revealed The Newspaper Saturday.

    In the case of the lagoons of Mercier, the worst contaminated site in Quebec, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement had estimated that the cleanup would cost about$ 80 Million, in 1994.

    Company millionaire

    Twenty-four years later, nothing has been done and the ground is still toxic. The site of the lagoons of Mercier belongs to the american company Clean Harbors, which reported revenues of 755,8 MILLION US$ in the third quarter of 2017.