More residents eligible for compensation after Shannon water contamination
Court did not recognize link between TCE leakage and cancer
More residents of Shannon, Que., are eligible for compensation for a water contamination that some say gave them deadly cancer.
The Quebec Court of Appeals has widened the scope of a judgment that ordered the federal government and two private companies — Valcartier Real Estate Corporation and General Dynamics — to pay citizens who suffered damage from the contamination.
Trichloroethylene (TCE), commonly used as a degreasing agent, was discovered to have leached into the drinking water supply system at the nearby Valcartier base in 1997.
Three years later, it was detected in private wells in neighbouring Shannon.
Previously, only residents who lived in the "red triangle" — where the TCE levels were found to be the highest — were eligible for compensation.
Now, residents who resided in certain areas as early as 1995 and as late as 2006 could be eligible.
The maximum amount claimants can receive also increased, from $15,000 to $63,000.
But it's a bittersweet victory, said the citizens' group representing Shannon residents.
"It was recognized that [the defendants] contaminated the water, it's flagrant," said Jean Bernier, a member of the group. "But they didn't recognize the causality between the contamination and the cancers."
"To fail at proving the causality, for me, I'm still a little bitter," added Marie-Paule Spieser, who is also a member of the group. "It was an arduous end to the recourse."
One medical analysis concluded that some residents of the town have a greatly elevated risk of developing cancer of the kidney and liver, as well as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The judges ruled that even if there was a scientific causal link between the TCE contamination and cancer, it did not meet the burden of proof required by the court.
That meant the compensation offered was for the contamination itself and not for any illnesses contracted as a result.
The group said it was also disappointed that residents who were minors at the time are not eligible for compensation. Residents said they may pursue more legal action.
With files from Radio-Canada