Construction work has stopped in the Turcot Yards after asbestos was found in the soil.

The site was tested this week, as preparatory work is underway for the big overhaul project of the Turcot Interchange

'We didn’t expect to find asbestos there,' - Alain-Marc Dubé, TQ director of the Turcot project

Transports Québec said it was surprised by the lab results.

“It’s one of the oldest industrial areas in Montreal and in Canada. So of course we find a lot of various contaminations, but we didn’t expect to find asbestos there,” said Alain-Marc Dubé, director of the Turcot project.

“So what we did is we stopped the work right away.”

Quebec’s transport ministry sent soil samples to a lab this week.

The results came back showing asbestos levels anywhere from 0.1 per cent to as high as 10 per cent.

“It’s a variable amount from one sample to the other. We’ll be confirming exactly what the amount is by conducting additional testing,” Dubé said.

The ministry says it’s not sure how the site got contaminated.

Dubé said it's possible the asbestos comes from coal-burning residue from the railway running through the area.

Workers’ safety first

Transports Québec said the site will now be closed for about a week to make sure workers are not exposed to the mineral, which has been linked to cancer.

“We stopped the work right away. There is no specific risk, but we don’t want our workers to have any exposure to asbestos,” Dubé said, adding that about 50 workers were assigned to the site.

Once additional test results come in, the ministry will decide if any safety measures need to be put in place to protect the workers.

Other preparatory work that doesn't expose workers to the soil is still ongoing.