Mirabel has just awarded a major contract to the manager of this ecocenter to treat construction residue.

Mirabel awarded a contract worth more than $332,000 to the manager of an ecocenter to treat construction waste. However, the company is currently the subject of investigations for having buried residues in agricultural land, including potentially materials with asbestos, we have learned. The duty.

Sterling Recycling Service (SRS) has been in the sights of Quebec authorities since The duty revealed, last June, that this manager of an ecocenter in the Saint-Canut sector, in Mirabel, used non-compliant materials to backfill agricultural land behind his sorting center: demolition debris, waste residues construction and pieces of plastic and glass.

Inspectors from the Ministry of the Environment confirmed the presence of an embankment this summer “made up of residual materials” and the release of contaminants “beyond the determined quantity or concentration”.

However, the Ministry of the Environment has since been informed that there “could have been burial of residual materials potentially containing asbestos”, confirmed last week to Duty his spokesperson, Frédéric Fournier. The potential presence of this carcinogenic substance would be found in a limited part of the land in an agricultural zone.

“If the ministry must intervene in this sector as part of its criminal investigation, the health risks will be assessed, personal protective equipment will be identified and ministry employees will have to wear this equipment,” Mr. Fournier wrote by email.

The Commission for the Protection of Agricultural Territory of Quebec (CPTAQ) has also opened an investigation. It also forced the company to dig four-meter-deep trenches at its own expense on April 24 at the rear of the ecocenter to find out what had been buried without authorization.

This work follows a notice of order issued by the CPTAQ, a few months ago, in which the guardian of arable land criticizes the company for work carried out without authorization: backfilling, burial of residual materials, cutting of maple trees , storage of debris and concrete without authorization.

Sterling Recycling Service did not respond to our interview requests.

$332,000 contract

Although the company is the subject of investigations, Mirabel just awarded it, in April, a five-year contract — worth more than $332,000 — to recycle dry materials, i.e. construction residue. , renovation and demolition.

“We are required to award the contract to the lowest compliant bidder. And Sterling is compliant,” says Jérôme Duguay, director of the Environmental Department at the City of Mirabel. As long as the company holds an operating permit, “we cannot decide in free will to refuse it a contract”. It indicates that the municipality was not informed by the ministry of the potential presence of asbestos.

Mr. Duguay also says he noted the presence of embankments made up of “concrete, brick, porcelain and pieces of plastic”, during a visit to the site in June 2023: “It is certain that, ideally, we would have to eliminate all plastic, but I am also aware that it would cost a fortune to be able to sort this. This would be practically not feasible or would be prohibitively expensive. »

“If it was just porcelain, brick and concrete, that would be ideal. There is some plastic left there. It is perhaps a lesser evil to put this there as a basis for a site that wants to become industrial rather than going to fill the landfill sites in the Montreal region whose authorized capacities are almost reached, said Mr. Duguay, affirming that he was not coming to the defense of the company.

The awarding of the contract and the explanations of Mirabel’s Director of Environment made Kevin Morin react, general director of the Quebec Environmental Technology Business Council: “Clearly, there are companies that have the technologies to carry out sorting. Otherwise, there are disposal sites that can receive them and dispose of them safely. Nothing tells us that there are no contaminants in these residues. »

According to him, municipalities should “integrate environmental conditions, qualitative criteria, into calls for tenders. The idea is not to exclude a particular player, but to ensure that the valuation will really be done according to the rules of the art. »

A similar story comes from Karel Ménard, general director of the Quebec Common Front for Ecological Waste Management: “In the environment, the law of the lowest bidder should not be applied, because the lowest bidder means that we can pay less and receive service accordingly. »

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