OTTAWA, Nov. 9, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, issued a final Order requiring the City of Montreal to modify its plans to discharge untreated wastewater into the St. Lawrence River.
The Order requires that the City of Montreal:
- Prepare and have in place a management plan with respect to unanticipated deposits from large industrial, institutional or commercial facilities to the City of Montreal's sewers during the construction period.
- Establish visual surveillance during the discharge, and deploy measures to clean up affected areas.
- Conduct enhanced monitoring of water quality, sediments and plants prior to, during, and after the discharge, and provide this data to Environment and Climate Change Canada.
- Participate in a comprehensive review of the events leading to this incident, which will be led by the Department of the Environment and Climate Change, and will include participants from affected First Nations, the Province, the City, as well as other interested parties, to ensure we establish and maintain respectful relationships with First Nations.
These modifications to the City of Montreal's plan reflect the advice of the independent scientific experts who analyzed the City's proposal. The experts concluded that the period between October and December poses the least risk to fish.
The independent experts advised Environment and Climate Change Canada that there would be a greater risk to the environment if the maintenance work is not carried out by the City of Montreal; the possibility of an unplanned discharge of untreated wastewater increases over time.
- On October 16, 2015, the Minister of the Environment issued an interim Order to restrict the City of Montreal's plans, pending the results of an independent scientific review.
- On October 18, 2015, the Minister of the Environment mandated an independent scientific panel to review the City of Montreal's planned release of eight billion liters of untreated wastewater into the St. Lawrence River.
- An amended Order was issued on November 2, 2015, extending the suspension of the discharge until end of day November 9, 2015, to allow Environment and Climate Change Canada time to conduct a thorough review of the independent scientific experts' findings.
- Scientific experts from Environment and Climate Change Canada held two technical briefings on Friday, November 6, 2015: a first one with members of First Nations, the City of Montreal, and the Province; and a second briefing with media representatives.
- The Minister of Environment and Climate Change personally reached out to Chief Clinton Phillips, of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, the Mayor of Montreal, Mr. Denis Coderre, as well as her Quebec counterpart, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change, David Heurtel.
"This Government is committed to transparency, and to science-based decision making. We engaged promptly with those who may be impacted by this situation including the Mayor of Montreal, neighbouring First Nations communities, and the Province.
"While I recognize that this release of untreated wastewater is far from ideal, the City of Montreal must perform timely critical maintenance of their infrastructure to prevent an unplanned release that could be even more damaging to the environment and its aquatic species.
"The changes I am requiring to the City of Montreal's plan will ensure that reasonable mitigation measures are put in place, and will assess the actual impact of the discharge to improve scientific data.
"I also require that the City of Montreal take part in a comprehensive review of the events leading to this incident. This review would include participants from the First Nations communities whose interests may be affected by the planned release."
– The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Backgrounder – Modifications required to the City of Montreal's plan to release untreated wastewater into the St. Lawrence River
Report of the independent scientific experts
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SOURCE Environment Canada
For further information: Media Relations, Environment and Climate Change Canada, 819-934-8008