Ottawa suspends sewage dump in St. Lawrence River
Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 3:30 PM -
Ottawa officials have suspended Montreal's plan to dump 8 billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River this month.
At a Wednesday briefing, Federal Minister of the Environment Leona Aglukkaq announced the project has been suspended pending an independent environmental review.
Minister Aglukkaq told reporters she has asked Environment Canad to appoint an independent expert to begin a scientific review of the plan, effective immediately.
Officials had originally planed to dump 8 billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River between October 18 and 25, 2015.
It's not clear if the dump will be rescheduled or cancelled.
After public outcry in late September, Montreal's mayor temporarily halted plans to dump the sewage into the St. Lawrence River.
The chairman of the city's executive committee, Pierre Desrochers, said that emptying a major sewer interceptor into the river is the only viable option to allow necessary construction work to be completed.
Officials say the purge is tied to the relocation of a snow-dumping area under a nearby expressway.
It currently feeds into a sewer receptor -- but before that can be done it has to be emptied, along with all other sewer lines attached to it.
It's been six years since the city last dumped raw sewage into the river. Montreal is not the first Canadian city to deliberately place untreated sewage into oceans, lakes and rivers. Out west, Victoria discharges millions of litres of raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and since 2004, Winnipeg's outdated sewer system has led to 185 million litres of raw sewage being dumped into the city's waterways. In 2014 Halifax also allowed untreated sewage to flow freely into Halifax Harbour, years after Halifax's sewage treatment was finished.
-- With files from Cheryl Santa Maria, Leeanna McLean and Daniel Martins.