Pointe-Claire company behind PCBs will 'fully co-operate'
Mayor and Quebec environment minister say they're skeptical company will follow through
The company accused of storing PCB-laden oil on its Pointe-Claire property says it is willing to submit an action plan for the removal of the chemicals and comply with the Quebec government’s demands.
Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet, said Reliance Power Equipment responded last night and said it was willing to "fully co-operate."
Transformers containing oil with high concentrations of PCBs leaked between 800-1,200 litres of the oily liquid onto the West Island site in March.
Michel Rousseau, deputy environment minister for the Quebec government, told Daybreak Friday morning that some PCBs leeched into nearby Lac St-Louis at that time, but that health authorities deemed the water safe.
The Quebec government and the City of Pointe-Claire gave Reliance until 10:25 a.m. today to reply to their demands and agree to clean up the PCBs it had stored on its West Island property for 15 years.
Despite the company's response, both the mayor of Pointe-Claire and the province's environment minister say they have their doubts, given the weeks of unsuccessful attempts to get Reliance to come forward.
"I accept Reliance’s response with reservations. My level of trust, which is based on the behaviour of the company’s management over the past years, is very low," Blanchet said.
Pointe-Claire mayor Bill McMurchie echoed that sentiment at a news conference late Friday morning. He said the city's council was "surprised and skeptical" at what it called Reliance's "last-minute position," and said it hoped it wasn't a stalling tactic.
"I think our experience so far would indicate that council's use of the word 'skeptical' is appropriate," McMurchie said.
It could take months to remove the transformers that contain the PCBs and then clean up the contaminated soil, and the environment ministry estimates the work could cost up to $2.5 million.
The company has until Sept. 3 to submit its preliminary action plan to the government.
The plan must outline how the chemicals are to be removed and transferred to a safe storage area, as well how the site will be decontaminated.
In the meantime, fire detectors and extinguishers will be installed to make the site safer. There will also be more security put in place.