Montreal's plan to dump sewage into St. Lawrence suspended

Environment Canada orders halt to plan to dump raw sewage into the waterway pending further analysis

Leona Aglukkaq (Adrian Wyld/CP)

Leona Aglukkaq (Adrian Wyld/CP)

SAGUENAY, Que. – The federal government has ordered a halt to Montreal’s controversial plan to dump eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River until further scientific analysis can be done.

Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel made the announcement on behalf of the environment minister today in Saguenay, Que.

He says Leona Aglukkaq has issued an interim order under the Fisheries Act to put the project on hold.

Montreal had planned to dump the untreated wastewater into the river between Oct. 18 and 25.

The city is closing an interceptor — a large sewer used to feed wastewater to treatment plants — to do maintenance work and relocate a snow chute located underneath the Bonaventure Expressway, which the city is converting into an urban boulevard.

Quebec’s Environment Department has already signed off on the plan but in recent weeks, the plan had become fodder in the federal election campaign.

Lebel says Aglukkaq has decided an “independent scientific review by a third party” is the best way to ensure the St. Lawrence River isn’t subject to irreparable environmental harm.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and the provincial government have maintained that, despite the optics, the controversial plan remains the best option available in terms of time and cost.

A citizen petition with 90,000 names opposed to the project was presented to Mayor Denis Coderre at a city council meeting Tuesday.