More than a year and a half after the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, several environmental emergency companies say they are still awaiting compensation from the Quebec government.
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The companies were hired by the province to limit the environmental impact following the July 6, 2013 accident, which set off several massive blasts, wiped out part of the downtown core and killed 47 people.
The Chaudière River and town's soil had to be decontaminated and the remaining rail cars emptied of oil.
Angelo Guglielmo, an accountant for Accuworx, a Brampton, Ont.-based firm, told Radio-Canada it had yet to receive “one cent."
The company was hired to spray a special foam meant to prevent further explosions. Gugliemo said it's owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"We do not regret helping in a disaster, but we definitely regret not being paid at all,” Gugliemo said in an email.
Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, the owner of the railway involved in the disaster, brought in environmental emergency responders immediately following the accident. But with the railway insolvent, the government has committed to funding the cleanup.
Accuworx isn’t the only company still waiting to get paid.
Radio-Canada identified at least three other companies which are owed hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
The Ottawa-based Eastern Canada Response Corporation, which was responsible for decontaminating the river has received some payments but has not yet been compensated in full.
The provincial government had promised send out payments by the summer of 2014, but that was pushed back to October, and then December.
Geneviève Lebel, a spokeswoman for Quebec’s environment ministry, blamed the delays on the complexity of the cleanup.
“To make a payment, the government must first ensure that the explanations and supporting documents deemed essential to the analysis of records are consistent,” she said.
The government said 95 per cent of the companies who worked on the cleanup have already been paid.