The province and the City of Montreal are joining forces to try to crack down on a possible link between organized crime and the dumping of contaminated soil on agricultural land.
The solution? A GPS system that can track where toxic soil is — and isn't — being dumped.
According to the province, there are about two million metric tonnes of contaminated soil to be disposed of every year.
Toxic soil is supposed to be dumped on designated sites at treatment centres. But the Sûreté du Québec has confirmed it believes members of organized crime have been dumping soil from contaminated excavation sites onto farmland.
Provincial police confirm they are investigating a possible link between organized crime and the dumping of contaminated soil.
"It's a constant battle. The city and all municipalities have to be very vigilant about any types of possible corruption," said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.
"What we are talking about today supports a solution, but again, we always have to be proactive."
The new pilot project, called Traces Québec, is set to launch in May. Companies would have to register for the web platform, which can track in real time where soil is being transported — from the time it leaves a contaminated site to the time it's disposed of.
Some environmentalists say they're concerned about the impact the toxic soil has had on agricultural land where it's been dumped. They're also uncertain about how a computerized tracking system will put an end to corruption and collusion.
"Right now, there's no environmental police force in Quebec so there have been investigations into these toxic soils being dumped but unfortunately nobody's been held accountable yet," said Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Quebec Green Party.
"There's really a lack of a coherent strategy for how Quebec is going to decontaminate all of these different toxic sites all over the province. There's no announcement of any new money."
The city and the province say this is a first step at addressing the issue and more announcements will be on the way in the coming months.