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Environmental characterization work at G&R

The G&R recycling site borders Kanesatake, St. Placide and the municipality of Oka.

(COURTESY ANONYMOUS SOURCE)

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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[email protected]

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Dear Readers:

As an essential service that is still open during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Eastern Door is fighting hard to keep news like this flowing, in our print product, though an online subscription at www.eastermdoor.com and here, for free, on our website and Facebook.

But when a large portion of our regular revenue has disappeared due to so many other businesses being closed, our circulation being affected by the same issue, and all of our specials canceled until the end of the year, we are looking for alternative ways to keep operations going, staff paid, and the paper out every Friday for you to enjoy.

Please consider a financial contribution to help us keep doing what we do best; telling the stories of our people in a contemporary medium – a solid, continuing archive that documents our cherished, shared history. Your kind donation will go to a newspaper that stands as the historical record, in-depth, informative and award-winning news; colourful stories, and a big boost to the local economy by employing 95 percent local workers.

Also, please consider subscribing to our e-edition, which comes out Thursday night, at www.easterndoor.com today, or pick up your copy Friday morning in Kahnawake, Kanesatake or Chateauguay. Akwesasne delivery has been suspended due to the pandemic and border issues.

We exercise real freedom of the press every single day. Without our reporters fighting for the truth our community would be missing a whole lot of facts, separated from gossip and rumors.

E-transfers are accepted and very much appreciated at: [email protected]