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Environmental violations: 10  000$ fine to Plastimum

After four years of complaints and environmental infractions, the problem of plastic discharge in the Magog River remains.

Radio-Canada

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After four years of complaints and of repeated environmental infractions, the problem of plastic discharge into the Magog River in Sherbrooke has still not been resolved. Radio-Canada has learned that the Ministry of the Environment is increasing pressure on one of the companies deemed responsible. A fine of $10,000 was imposed on Plastimum.

The project director at the Water Governance Council for the watersheds of the Saint-François River, Julie Grenier, considers it unacceptable that despite multiple citizen complaints from the four In recent years, pieces of plastic have always been thrown into the Magog River.

Whether it happens two or three times, we clearly have to tighten the screw, she said.

However, for a long time, the Ministry of the Environment has judged the Plastimum plastic recovery center to be at fault. Quebec has given him five notices of non-compliance since 2019.

The last one, sent in September 2023, lists four infractions, including one for improper storage of plastic. Inspectors indicate that several of the materials should have been in containers or dumpsters.

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The Ministry of the Environment is increasing pressure on the Plastimum company.

They also specify in their report that they have established a direct link between the particles of the company and those found in the Magog River.

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On December 15, the ministry therefore imposed a sanction of $10,000 on Plastimum.

But according to Julie Grenier, the sanctions are not dissuasive enough. The lack of seriousness in relation to the sanctions clearly demonstrates the importance given to the environment, she underlines.

We worry a lot about PFAS arriving from Vermont, but here we have pollution like that and rarely do offenders have sanctions that are significant enough to prevent them from doing it again.

A quote from Julie Grenier, director projects, Saint-François River Watershed Water Governance Council

However, citizens are delighted that the numerous reports have led to government interventions. So we can continue to file a complaint at this time and something will happen, says Gilles Lemelin, member of the Association of Residents and Users of the Magog River.

Research has already shown that plastic is ingested by aquatic species, notes the professor in the chemistry department of the University of Sherbrooke Céline Guéguen.

When plastic degrades, contaminants can be released into the environment. To date, their long-term impact is still unknown.

We have very little data. What we know is that certain plastics will release heavy metals, for example, or organic compounds which potentially also have an impact on health.

A quote from Céline Guéguen, professor in the chemistry department of the University of Sherbrooke

Plastimum did not respond to interview requests from Radio-Canada. The Ministry of the Environment, however, says that some corrections were made to the company's site this fall. The work should continue next spring.

With information from Thomas Deshaies

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