MONTREAL – Verdun officials are on the defensive.
They’re trying to justify why 1,500 tons of toxic asphalt waste was dumped on a vacant piece of land next to the St. Lawrence River.
The material sat there for almost five months before being removed at the end of April.
But the decision to dump it there could become very costly for taxpayers.
In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for the Quebec Environment Department said that the borough could face fines between $24,000 and $3,000,000 for illegally dumping the contaminated waste on a non-authorized site.
The asphalt issue happened during construction on LaSalle Boulevar, which was dug up last year as part of a major road work project.
Borough engineers signed off on using the site next to the river to speed repairing the road.
However, it is illegal to store toxic waste anywhere on the Island of Montreal.
Watch: Is Verdun a toxic dump?
Verdun officials said they could have applied for a temporary permit to stockpile the asphalt, but they failed to do so.
It’s the second time the site has been used as a dumping ground in recent months.
The vacant land is an old snow dumping ground and snow was dumped there last December during the Christmas holidays.
It was fined $5,000 then by the environment department.
Watch: More fines for Verdun over contamination
“This is very embarrassing for us and for the city to be honest,” said Pierre L’Heureux, a Verdun borough councillor.
L’Heureux said elected councillors and the borough mayor, Jean-François Parenteau, had no idea the site was being used as a dumping ground.
The land is surrounded by lush green space and is in the middle of a bike path.
The borough has plans to decontaminate the land and convert it back for recreational use.
© Shaw Media, 2014