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article imageMontreal suspends plan to pollute St. Lawrence River

By Karen Graham     Sep 30, 2015 in Environment
Montreal - Montreal's original plan to dump eight million cubic meters of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River over a seven to 10 day period has been put on hold.
The clearing of the sewage interceptor was to be part of a construction project involving the lowering of the Bonaventure Expressway. This would eliminate an area used to dump snow in the winter.
City officials said the amount of raw sewage pouring out would be at the rate of 13 cubic meters per second over a period of seven to 10 days, starting on October 18. This raw sewage would fill 2,600 Olympic swimming pools. But officials also said the St. Lawrence River was quite capable of handling the flow.
Philippe Sabourin, a City of Montreal spokesman, told CBC News, "There is no other possible choice." Sabourin added that with the current being so fast-flowing, "It isn't a major environmental concern."
However, Sabourin did have to concede that the sewage would be a problem for fishermen, kayakers, and surfers in the area. But he also mentioned the city was going to put out information about the planned dump, and conduct "targeted communications."
It should be noted that the City of Montreal says it has the approval of the provincial environmental ministry to clear the sewers that collect waste from homes, industries, and hospitals. The interceptor is one of two on the island of Montreal. It collects waste-water from the Southwest borough, LaSalle, and Lachine, as well as parts of Verdun and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.
Opposition to sewage dump - Find another solution
The news of the sewage dump raised the ire of environmentalists. On Tuesday, Sylvain Ouellet, Projet Montréal's spokesman on environmental matters said, "It's hard to believe there is no other mitigation measure that could be put in place to avoid untreated waste-water from being dumped directly into the river for a week."
After several calls to city officials, on Wednesday morning, executive committee chairman Pierre Desrochers said Mayor Denis Coderre has requested a pause "for a day or two," according to the Montreal Gazette. “Chantal Rouleau (executive committee member responsible for water) has given all the reasons to show why this measure is justified. Nevertheless, at the demand of the mayor, to assure and as a question of diligence, the mayor has asked for a stop on this work and to look, over the coming days, to re-evaluate that the decision and the analysis that has been done is the right one, and to allow us to assure Montrealers of the need for the decision.”
It will be interesting to hear what the city decides on this matter. With environmental awareness at an all-time high, methods used in the past are just not acceptable today. Up until the 1980s, it was common practice for Montreal to clear its sewers by dumping waste into the St. Lawrence River.
More about Raw sewage, purging sewage system, st lawrence river, alternative measures, construction work
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