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Mohawk community in Kahnawake looking for answers weeks after fuel spill

Click to play video: 'Quebec promises to get to bottom of Kahnawake fuel spill'
Quebec promises to get to bottom of Kahnawake fuel spill
WATCH: Lack of transparency and language issues? Kahnawake is accusing Châteauguay and Quebec officials of not collaborating in the cleanup of a fuel spill affecting their territory. But as Global’s Gloria Henríquez reports, the premier promises help is on the way – Mar 1, 2024

The water flowing on the Suzanne River near Zachary Road in Kahnawake contains a dirty secret.

Weeks after a fuel spill, Kahnawake officials still don’t know who is responsible or how big it actually was.

Officials say they found out through residents who alerted them on Feb. 9th.

“Complaining of a strong smell of diesel as well as seeing diesel or like an oily substance in one of the ditches,” said Chief Cody Diabo of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake.

So far, one resident’s home was evacuated as the contaminated water is coming up through their sump pump.

Several other homes were given kits to test their water while waiting for instructions from health officials.

Meanwhile, Kahnawake environmental teams kept investigating.

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Diabo says that after a few days, they traced the spill back to Châteauguay on Ford Boulevard.

“When they went to the location, they noticed that there was evidence of a recent spill,” Diabo said.

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Chief Diabo said they were first told it happened on Feb. 8th. Then, when they pushed, that it happened Feb. 1st.

“Now it changes everything again so why weren’t we notified?” Chief Diabo said.

Click to play video: 'Mohawk community in Kahnawake looking for answers after oil spill'
Mohawk community in Kahnawake looking for answers after oil spill

Kahnawake’s Environmental Protection office is working to contain the spill, but they say they need more information to properly handle the damage.

They wonder why they had to be the ones notifying Canadian authorities of the spill. The office of Canada’s environment minister Steven Guilbeault confirmed Kahnawake alerted them on Feb. 11th.

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Diabo says he wants more answers from the mayor of Châteauguay.

“In the beginning, conversations were flowing, we’re both trying to figure out what was going on. He had advised me that he wasn’t aware too much of the situation, that it was reported as a minor spill but given everything that we know to this point, it was not,” Diabo said.

Diabo says knowing the details of what happened will help him better care for nearby wetlands and his residents.

The city of Châteauguay says they can’t speak to Global News because an investigation by the province’s environmental officials is underway.

A spokesperson for Quebec’s environment minister Benoit Charette told Global News both the minister and Kahnawake officials shared a call on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Guilbeault said a meeting is scheduled for Thursday with officials as well to discuss the spill.

Click to play video: 'Montreal-area wind farm born of partnership between Mohawk community, Hydro-Québec and Kruger'
Montreal-area wind farm born of partnership between Mohawk community, Hydro-Québec and Kruger

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