Longueuil water-consumption ban lifted

The ban on consuming tap water has now been lifted in Longueuil, Que., following this week’s diesel spill into the St. Lawrence River.

Officials say tap water is now safe to drink after 28,000 litres of diesel spilled into St. Lawrence River

Longueuil Mayor Caroline St-Hilaire said the tap water may still have an odour but it's safe to drink, as she took a sip at a news conference. (CBC)


  • Water-consumption ban in Longueuil lifted
  • Latest test results show water is safe to drink, officials say

The ban on consuming tap water has now been lifted in Longueuil, Que. following this week’s diesel spill into the St. Lawrence River.

Officials say today’s water quality test results confirm the water in the communities of Saint-Hubert, Vieux-Longueuil, Boucherville and Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville is safe to consume.

"The water may still have a funny smell or taste, but the water is safe to drink," said Longueuil Mayor Caroline St-Hilaire, who took a sip of a glass of water as she sat down at the press conference.

Officials said citizens' tap water should taste and smell normal again over the weekend.

They will also continue to test the water quality via mobile labs in order to ensure diesel levels do not rise.

Since Thursday, about 200,000 residents have had to drink and cook with bottled water.

Longueuil had promised to provide water, but that plan didn't go off smoothly.

A truckload of bottles water arrives at Colisée Jean Béliveau, a distribution centre in Longueuil, Que. on Thursday afternoon. (Pascal Robidas/Radio-Canada)
There were long lines at several distribution centres on Thursday as residents waited for the arrival of supplies.

St-Hilaire said the city had handed out 400,000 litres of water in the last day and a half..

Mayor angry with federal government

St-Hilaire was furious with the federal government, and took to Twitter late Friday afternoon to express dismay.

"Environment Canada delayed for several hours today the decontamination work at the Longueuil filtration plant,” the Tweet read.

St-Hilaire said federal environment ministry officials showed up at the plant, ordered city employees to leave, sealed off areas of the plant and seized equipment as part of an investigation.

Later in a statement, the federal environment ministry denied that ever happened.

"The reports stating that Environment Canada sealed drinking water wells are not correct. Environment Canada did not issue any order regarding drinking water in the City of Longueuil, nor did it seal any well.

Environment Canada is providing support and scientific advice to the Quebec Ministry of the Environment, which is the lead agency," Environment Canada spokeswoman Mélanie Quesnel told CBC in an email.

Provincial investigation underway

The water advisory was first put in place late Thursday morning — one day after 28,000 litres of diesel spilled into the St. Lawrence due to a generator leak at a water filtration plant in Longueuil.

Longueuil officials didn't immediately notify the province about the leak, which happened early Wednesday at around 4 a.m. Officials from Quebec's Urgence-Environneent arrived on the scene about six hours after the initial leak.

The city issued a statement on Wednesday saying the water was safe to drink.

But Thursday morning, after residents complained their tap water smelled like gas, the city ran tests and found the drinking water contained traces of diesel.

Quebec’s environment ministry says it has launched an investigation, and the city of Longueuil could possible face legal action if the investigation finds that the situation was not handled properly.