Northvolt sanctioned for clearcutting in wetlands outside Montreal

Click to play video: 'Fallout continues over construction plans for Northvolt EV battery plant'
Fallout continues over construction plans for Northvolt EV battery plant
WATCH: Northvolt, the Swedish EV battery manufacturer building a plant outside Montreal, has admitted to destroying more than 1,000 square metres of wetlands – all in an area where the company wasn’t supposed to be working. The environment minister has threatened to fine Northvolt but financial penalties have yet to materialize. Meanwhile, environmentalists are saying that what Northvolt did and the Quebec government’s response are unacceptable. Global’s Tim Sargeant reports – Mar 28, 2024

Northvolt, the large Swedish electric vehicle battery making company, has been issued a notice of non-compliance by the Quebec Environment Department after the company hired a subcontractor that clear cut 1,044 square metres of wetlands near the site of its future plant in Saint-Basil-le-Grand.

The area cut was not in the zone where preparation work is required to build the future battery-making plant.

In a press release, Northvolt writes, “This wetland is disconnected from the water system and its ecological functions have been assessed as low to medium.”

“The machine did not effectively hurt what was on the land and the soil,” Laurent Therrien, a spokesperson for Northvolt, told Global News.

Therrien says the company is complying with all environmental regulations and requirements from the government department and it’s committed to replanting some trees that were destroyed.

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The environment minister accepts the response.

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“Collaboration is good with the enterprise. They were able to propose us a plan to correct the situation,” Benoit Charette, the Environment Minister told Global News.

But Greenpeace doesn’t buy it.

“That is totally unacceptable. I mean we’re talking about a multinational here,” Patrick Bonin, a Greenpeace official in the climate and energy division, told Global News.

Bonin says Greenpeace informed the government that clearcutting was being done but inspectors didn’t go on site until three weeks after the complaint.

“A thousand square metres has been destroyed. It will take years for the creation of the same ecosystem,” Bonin said.

Bonin insists an environmental assessment review should have been ordered before the preparation work begun but Northvolt countered that would have created economic constraints and put it at a competitive disadvantage.

Northvolt is hoping to start delivering its first lithium ion battery cells by 2026 and eventually power up one million electric vehicles a year.


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