Quebec government downplays Lac-Megantic pollution

MONTREAL – The Quebec government is downplaying concerns about environmental damage from the Lac-Megantic train disaster.

The province’s environment department has released a series of charts listing the level of various pollutants in the water and air in the area.

It says the statistics show, in most cases, a return to the concentration levels present before the July 6 accident.

The government says only its own statistics will be released on the Environment Department website — not those compiled by third parties.

That announcement comes one day after the release of a report by an NGO, linked to Greenpeace, that detected an astronomical level of pollutants in the neighbouring Chaudiere River.

For instance, the NGO report announced a presence of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons more than 394,000 times greater at the water surface than the limit considered safe by the Environment Department.

The new government figures rebut some of those claims. However, there’s one notable exception: the provincial figures also show a significant glut of hydrocarbons away from the water surface — as did the NGO, whose acronym is SVP.

“These could certainly float off the banks, and up from the riverbed, in the event of floods or of abrupt changes in water levels,” said the government statement.