MONTREAL – Schools across Quebec are currently sitting on contaminated land, according to an assessment by the province’s education ministry.
According to Public health toxicologist Monique Beausoleil, who spoke to TVA, heavy metals and hydrocarbons like fuel oil can sometimes be found in the soil on school grounds.
But Suanne Stein Day, chairperson of the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB), told Global News there isn’t any cause for concern for parents or students.
“Those schools were heated by oil back in the day – about 50 years ago – but they’re now all electric,” explained Stein Day.
“The oil tanks are still underground.”
Across greater Montreal, about 262 schools were on the list, including:
- 42 schools at the English Montreal School Board
- 24 at the Lester B. Pearson School Board
- 20 with the Riverside School Board
- 4 at the Sir Wilfrid-Laurier School Board
- 2 at the New Frontiers School Board
The list also mentions 78 schools in the Monteregie district, 44 in Centre-du-Québec, 12 in Estrie and 12 in the Laurentians.
Stein Day pointed out the list is old and many of the schools across the province – including at least a dozen at the LBPSB – have already been decontaminated.
“There is no real harm. It is not considered dangerous or urgent, it’s just heating oil,” she told Global News.
“We don’t dig up and disturb anything unless we’re doing another project. We’ve been working hand in hand with the government.”
The EMSB agreed.
“All boards were asked to do an inventory in 2009,” said spokesperson Mike Cohen.
“We did so, identified the sites, and we have cleaned most of them already.”
Global News contacted both the public health department and the province’s Education Ministry for comment, but has yet to hear back.