Government turns back on toxic mess
“Report by environmental investigators ignored. Now river guardian speaks out.”
(MONTREAL) – Signs that Environment Canada is ignoring evidence that alarming concentrations of PCBs and PAHs are contaminating the St. Lawrence River every day have environmental investigators up in arms.
A report on the Technoparc site – an old hazardous waste site located just eight blocks from the Notre Dame Cathedral in Old Montreal – was issued to Environment Canada last Thursday by the Environmental Bureau of Investigation (EBI).
Environment Canada believes the booms (floating barriers designed to capture contaminants before they flow into the river) are doing a good job of collecting the toxic discharge, namely PCBs: “Environnement Canada estime que la barrière permet une bonne captation des BPC,” according to a report in the Metro last Monday.
“By tying the booms to the shoreline during the winter months, they cannot possibly ‘do a good job of collecting the PCBs,’” says Mark Mattson, executive director of EBI, in a letter sent yesterday to Environment Canada.
The City of Montreal purposefully removes the booms in the winter, an Environment Canada inspector told EBI and SVP.
“We discovered a 400-metre long slick running down the river last January. We’ve given them (Environment Canada investigators) photographs of the discharge. We’ve given them lab analysis that shows it is toxic. What more do they need?” asks Mattson.
The pollution watchdog is also reminding the government that the discharges from the Technoparc site are not isolated incidents, but is an unabated flow of toxins that have been contaminating the St. Lawrence River for years.
“This is a pollution problem that is constant, and our message should be just as constant,” said Stephanie Weiss, executive director of the U.S.-based St. Lawrence River group, Save the River! Weiss issued a statement today, echoing EBI’s concerns and supporting their call for a government investigation.
Mattson hopes Weiss’ statement will encourage Canadian environment officials to take the TEchnoparc case seriously.
“In Montreal we have 1,000 of gallons of toxic PCBs and PAHs plus oils going into the St. Lawrence and we can’t even get our concerns taken seriously – in the U.S., investigators are working around the clock to identify the responsible party so they can lay charges and hold him accountable,” says Mattson, referring to the recent oil spill in the Rouge River near Windsor. The U.S. spill immediately prompted the involvement of 150 government employees, from the Coast Guard to the FBI.
Environment Canada has promised an official letter in a week indicating whether or not it will investigate the claims made by EBI and SVP in their report.
EBI is a not-for-profit organization that investigates pollution crime. EBI conducted the investigation on behalf of Montreal group Sociéte pour Vaincre la Pollution (SVP).
Read EBI’s letter to Environment Canada: http://www.e-b-i.net/ebi/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=4028
Read Stephanie Weiss’ statement: http://www.e-b-i.net/ebi/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=4030
Read EBI report on the Technoparc site: http://www.e-b-i.net/ebi/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=3950
Mark Mattson, Executive Director, Environmental Bureau of Investigation T) 416.964.9223 ext. 244 or 416.568.6036 E)
Stephanie Weiss, Executive Director, Save the River! T) 315.686.2010 E) firstname.lastname@example.org