Borough officials in Verdun says they’re scrambling to deal with a pile of contaminated dirt and rubble left in a waterfront park.
The hazardous materials were left out in the open last fall by crews repairing Lasalle Boulevard — but officials say they only recently found out about it.
'The last thing to do with contaminated soil is dump it close to a waterway,' - Daniel Green, environmental activist
“We were informed about it about two weeks ago and we're in the process of dealing with the situation," said Verdun borough councillor Pierre L'Heureux.
The contaminated soil was left at a site that used to be a snow depot — on the southern edge of the Verdun borough, along the Saint Lawrence River.
The snow depot was shut down by Quebec’s environment ministry to prevent salt and other contaminants from running off into the river.
Environmental activist Daniel Green says the pile of soil and rubble couldn’t have been dumped in a worse spot.
“The last thing to do with contaminated soil is dump it close to a waterway,” Green said, adding that contaminated soil can contain dangerous chemicals such as benzopyrene.
“It's a hazardous chemical -- it sticks to your shoes, it sticks to your hands. Bringing it next to the Saint Lawrence River like this is unconscionable."
Borough officials said the soil should not have been dumped there, and the move happened under the previous administration.
“People have to get it in their heads you don't put contaminated snow or soil near a waterway,” said borough mayor Jean-François Parenteau, adding that he wants to revitalize the riverbank.
Borough officials say they will fence off the area around the site and then clean it up by the summer.
The clean-up will cost the borough about $1 million.