The City of Longueuil could be facing legal action for the way it handled a major oil spill, a spokesman for Quebec's Urgence-Environment said. 

Early Wednesday morning, equipment failure at a Longueuil waste water treatment centre caused 28,000 litres of diesel to spill into the St. Lawrence River.

According to Radio-Canada, the diesel spilled into the sewers from a generator and made its way into the river.

The problem appeared at about 4 a.m. ET, and the ministry was notified just before 9:30 a.m. ET.

A ministry official told CBC that by the time an emergency team from Urgence-Environnement arrived on the scene — which was about 6 hours after the leak occurred — it was too late to stop the spill.

The municipalities of Contrecoeur and Verchères, about 25 kilometres east of Montreal, take their drinking water from the river.

The ministry said town officials have been notified, but it doesn’t appear as though the drinking water has been affected.

A spokesman for the environment ministry said an investigation is underway, and it is also trying to determine if there has been any effect on wildlife in the river.


  • A previous version of this story said the municipality of Verchères could face legal action for the spill. In fact, the City of Longueuil could face legal action.
    Jan 15, 2015 8:12 AM ET