Environmental characterization work at G&R

·2 min read

Analysis and restitution work is currently underway at the G&R recycling site, in order to address the ongoing situation that has been affecting Kanehsata’kehró:non’s quality of life for the past six years.

The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake (MCK)’s environmental department, with the technical assistance of Golder, a private consulting firm, is currently collaborating with G&R Recycling’s co-owner, Robert Gabriel, to complete the environmental characterization of the company’s site.

Site characterization is meant to define the extent of contamination through analysis and samplings, in order to develop a restoration plan. The fieldwork started with surface water and sediment quality assessment on December 1. Stockpiles, groundwater and soil quality assessments were also recently completed.

“I need to know what the contaminants are,” said Kanesatake grand chief Serge Otsi Simon. “I want to see what I’m dealing with.”

While the MCK environmental department didn’t answer The Eastern Door’s interview request in time for publication, a Facebook post on the Ratihontsanontstats Kanesatake Environment page stated: “the main objective of the work currently being done is to address the ongoing problem with the smell that is being secreted from the site. The team working on the site is putting in place a system whose control mechanisms will improve water aeration, limit and prevent water contamination and will also help us monitor the situation.”

According to the environmental department, boreholes were drilled and equipped with monitoring wells for sampling water and assessing the extent of the damages that were caused by misuse of the recycling site.

G&R saw its permit revoked earlier in October by the Quebec government after a summer of relentless pressure from community members, along with neighbouring municipalities. They complained about the “rotten-egg” smell - often followed by headaches and sore throats. Many governmental reports showed environmental violations as the site illegally exceeded the amount of dumped waste, with contaminants leaking in nature.

The MCK issued a resolution in 2014 allowing the recycling site’s operations until 2044. The grand chief repeatedly said he feared that revoking MCK’s authorization would burden the community with the monetary cost of the cleanup bill that he previously estimated between $70 to $100 million.

“By removing the resolution, I’m afraid the government will say it’s our problem now,” said Simon.

In an exchange with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), spokesperson Chelsea Steacy confirmed that ECCC is in fact collaborating in the ongoing remediation work.

“The environmental characterization work at the site does not involve ECCC employees,” said Steacy. “In response to a formal request made by the MCK in April 2020, ECCC and Indigenous Services Canada are providing funding for Golder’s technical assistance in this KEOled project.”

ECCC confirmed that Golder would complete a final report, including a comprehensive analysis of test results, in Spring 2021.


Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door