Watch: Is Verdun a toxic dump?
MONTREAL – Environmentalists and some recently elected officials are sounding the alarm after discovering 1,500 tonnes of toxic soil piled up in Verdun, a few dozen metres away from the St. Lawrence River.
“We have the swimming pool right there so it’s a very high use area” said Daniel Green of the Société pour vaincre la pollution, “It is ridiculous to put contaminated soil next to a high use area.”
The City apparently allowed a contractor to store the soil on the river bank last fall, during major repair work on Lasalle Boulevard. The site is just across the street from the Douglas Hospital and next to the neighbourhood’s most popular bike path.
Laboratory tests by the City of Montreal have revealed the soil contains high levels of creosote, a well-known carcinogen. But many have a hard time understanding how someone from the City could have allowed the dumping on the former snow depot site.
“We have to admit that we know little of the rationale behind this because we were not in office then and no one told us” said Verdun Borough Councillor Pierre L’Heureux.
Watch: More fines for Verdun over contamination
Several recently elected officials went to see the contaminated site up close after first hearing the news, on Earth Day.
“This is not the kind of thing for me that you can simply pass off as oversight,” said Sterling Downey, Verdun City Councillor. “When massive road work is being done like that there should be inspectors. There’s got to be somebody. Listen, somebody knew!”
But the costly clean up will have to wait.
“It can’t be moved now until the end of May, until the spring thaw is over. It’s ridiculous,” said Downey.
Environmentalists took new soil and water samples, to see if the toxic chemicals are seeping into the river. Daniel Green is planning to file a complaint with Quebec’s Environment Ministry and hopes it will lead to criminal charges.
“They’re gonna have to do an investigation, a report and ultimately maybe prosecute Verdun for this dump,” said Green.