Homemade bombs found under machinery at Quebec construction site: company

Click to play video: 'Northvolt says Molotov cocktails found at Montreal-area worksite'
Northvolt says Molotov cocktails found at Montreal-area worksite
WATCH: Northvolt has halted all activity at the future site of its electric battery plant in Quebec. The Swedish giant says it found a series of Molotov cocktails in their machinery over the weekend. Global's Gloria Henriquez reports. – May 6, 2024

Swedish manufacturer Northvolt says it was once again targeted by vandals at the site of its future electric vehicle battery megaplant outside Montreal.

The company’s North American CEO, Paulo Cerruti, called for a press conference Monday afternoon to denounce what he says are “recent acts of vandalism that seriously endanger Northvolt employees and partners.”

In a press release, Cerruti said in French that homemade bombs placed under some machinery over the weekend were discovered by a Northvolt team Monday morning.

Cerruti later described the devices as Molotov cocktails, explaining they were filled with flammable liquid and connected to a trigger mechanism.

“Fortunately the devices didn’t go off so there is no damage,” he told reporters on the site which straddles the municipalities of McMasterville and Saint-Balsile-Le-Grand.

Cerruti claims the devices were placed there with “the intent of injuring our workers and to presumably slow down our operations.”

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“We condemn this act in the most firm way.” he said. “The first thought went to our employees and to the firms that are working with us.

“Here at the site, their safety is our utmost priority and will continue to be our utmost priority.”

A not-for-profit that has been working with Northvolt was also targeted Friday night.
Maxime Boudreau of the Centre de Valorisation du bois Urbain (CVBU) said its offices were broken into and everything was sprayed with brown paint.

“The floors, the ceilings, the chairs, everything,” he said. “It’s discouraging to see this kind of action against a social economy company.”

CVBU reclaims felled wood from Quebec municipalities and transforms the wood into value-added products to benefit the community.

Bourdeau said CVBU has been working closely with Northvolt, having been hired to cut trees to prep the land ahead of construction.

While there was no note left at CVBU offices linking the vandalism to its association with Northvolt, the timing of the incident is “suspicious,” Bourdeau said.

Boudreau said he’s proud of the work that’s been accomplished and the amount of wood that was reclaimed.

Brown paint was splattered on the walls of a Quebec non-profit on Friday. Gloria Henriquez/Global News


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The construction of the plant has drawn a lot of criticism and opposition  environmental groups and the Mohawk community who say it is being built on environmentally sensitive land without being subject to a proper environmental assessment process, including full public consultations under the BAPE — the province’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement.

Cerruti said Northvolt did not have a message for the individual or individuals involved in the incident and that it would not “engage” with them.

Northvolt is open to discussing with groups who express their concerns, Cerruti said, but he expects “a basic set of values and civil behaviour” as paramount to any discussion.

Quebec’s Economy Minister  Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon also condemned the actions against Northvolt, saying on social media that the tactics used were “completely unacceptable.”

He also said that while there is always room for debate, there is no place for violence.

Environment Minister Benoit Charrette also chimed in on X, saying the acts were both “deplorable and condemnable.”

In January, Northvolt had to briefly suspend work when an environmental group and several citizens went to Superior Court to try to halt construction that they argued would destroy a number of wetlands. The injunction request was denied.

It was also in January that nails or metal bars were inserted into about 100 trees by anonymous saboteurs allegedly hoping to slow down tree-cutting on the site.

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Cerruti said the company is more determined than ever to move forward with construction of the $7-billion plant.

“This is a project for Quebec,” he said. “This is a project to accelerate the transition to a decarbonized world.”

Northvolt said police are investigating the most recent attack and the company is waiting for the green light to resume operations amid tightened security.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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