MISE & Agrave; DAY
The brand new Shawinigan water filtration plant, which multiplies toxic discharges and which is the subject of an investigation by the ministry, is closing indefinitely.
A boil water advisory for all citizens served by the plant, ie 30,000 people, which represents 70% of Shawinigan residents, as of Thursday.
Still in August , Mayor Michel Angers, however, qualified the work as “a great political victory.” “
But since its opening in January 2020, the Lac à La Pêche plant, which is part of a project to upgrade the Shawinigan drinking water system and which cost $ 64 million, has never worked well. & nbsp;
The membranes that filter the water get clogged forcing them to be washed more often than expected which leads to discharges in a stream that killed fish. The Ministry of the Environment has even opened an investigation to shed light on the situation, our investigation office revealed last August.
Despite contracts awarded in recent months to clean up the creek and the plant and find solutions (over $ 4 million), the city was forced to announce on Wednesday that it had to close the plant. & Nbsp;
“More organic matter is found in the water in the fall and this accelerates the clogging of the membranes”, explained the mayor in a press release.
The latter does not know when the plant can reopen and how much it will cost to correct the situation. & nbsp;
Last August, the mayor Angers told the Journal about the factory: “We will start by making a new attempt to restart, but if we have to set fire to the plant? factory afterwards, do not be worried, I will be the service arsonist. But as we speak, I still have some hope that the technology […] can work. “
A meeting is scheduled with Environment Minister Benoit Charette on December 15.
” Environmental damage “
André Berthiaume, owner of land where the stream flows which was contaminated by the plant, said he was happy with this announcement. For weeks, he had been asserting that the cleaning of the stream was far from being completed and the discharges had started again.
“Again on Saturday, we took pictures because there were rejections, ”he says.
The latter wonders why the decision comes now … a few weeks after the municipal elections.
Michel Angers, mayor of Shawinigan since 2009, had fought tooth and nail to obtain the water filtration plant at Lac à la Pêche rather than on the Saint-Maurice River as wished by the Minister of the Environment. & Nbsp ;
“The choice of site was entirely his mistake,” Berthiaume insists. And now, we have a big environmental damage and I am worried that my land will remain dirty. & Nbsp; And as soon as they leave the factory, I will have a sword of Damocles over my head, adds- he does. The water in Lac à la Pêche is dirty and always will be.
Over the past few months, the Journal has faced numerous denials of access to information requests from the city. Some concerning reports, including that of the National Center for Electrochemistry and Environmental Technologies (CNETE) of 2017 on pilot tests for the treatment and recycling of water from Lac à la Pêche. & Nbsp; The CEO of the center, Nancy Déziel, who is also municipal councilor and friend of Mr. Angers.
At the time of publication, the mayor had not responded to our interview request.