Mayor heads underground on day 2 of sewage dump
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre went 35 metres underground on Thursday, to inspect sewer repair work on day two of the city’s raw sewage dump.
Sewers in the Montreal area began diverting wastewater into the St. Lawrence River on Wednesday, so city crews can complete work on the aging infrastructure and relocate a snow chute.
Coderre said the dump, which will see eight billion litres of untreated wastewater discharged into the waterway, will last one week.
City officials are warning residents not to swim in or otherwise come in direct contact with the river as the operation is underway, and to avoid flushing diapers, wipes, sanitary napkins and other foreign objects down their toilets — items they’re not supposed to be flushing anyway.
The city says it’s taking several precautions to make sure the river, its banks and its wildlife suffer no lasting harm.
Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna asked city officials to visually monitor the discharge and clean up anything that accumulates from it, to put in place a backup plan in case any unexpected industrial spills happen at the same time, and to conduct regular testing of the water quality in the river until next year.
But some residents aren’t optimistic that everything will go well.
“The citizen outrage over #flushgate has been overwhelming in recent days — and despite reassurances from the Canadian federal and provincial governments, the people seem unconvinced that this activity is safe for the River,” a group called Save the River said on its Facebook page.
Second Night-Time Demonstration
On Wednesday, Kahnawake Mohawks blocked an access ramp to the Mercier Bridge for the second night in a row to protest Montreal’s controversial sewage dump.
Kahnawake Peacekeepers monitored the demonstration attended by a few dozen people. Access to the bridge by Highway 138 was blocked until 4 a.m. Thursday.
Tuesday, the Mohawks had partially blocked traffic from Route 132, near the Mercier Bridge. Until midnight, they had waved Mohawk flags and a huge banner to mark their opposition to the spill.
It’s an inconvenience, but the bridge has remained open.
There are rumours brewing in town, though, that may not last.
The Kahnawake band council doesn’t endorse the move, but they understand people are unhappy.
“We realize people are upset and when people are upset they do things,” it said.
Clan leaders and various individuals are meeting Thursday night to discuss their next steps.
The St. Lawrence River runs nearly 750 miles from the Great Lakes through Montreal and Quebec City before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.