After discovering that their land was polluted by hydrocarbons, the owners of a house on rue Mezy in Chicoutimi-North are left to their own devices as the city of Saguenay and the Environment Ministry refuse to help.
“We’re hitting walls,” said Sylvain Tremblay annoyed.
Last April, he and his wife suffered water damage. The contractor then discovered the presence of gasoline and stopped work immediately. The owners therefore contacted the city and the Ministry of the Environment.
Last week the ministry wrote to confirm the presence of heavily weathered diesel and heating oil. The ministry attributed this contamination to the activities of a gas station that ceased operations in the late 1970s, before the law required decontamination of a commercial premises upon permanent closure. “So even if there has been contamination from the old gas station over time, it’s impossible to legally call the old company. The ministry cannot intervene in your case,” the signatory of the letter wrote on behalf of the ministry.
‘You wash your hands with it,’ lamented Mr Tremblay. But if it was in their backyard, they would think differently!”
On the side of the city of Saguenay, it’s the same story: the owner is asked to clean up his land himself. As the Ministry of the Environment recalls in its letter, “the landowner is responsible for his land, even if it has been contaminated for a long time”.
“The land is ours, but the cellar under the land belongs to the city! We would never have bought it 20 years ago if we had known it was contaminated beneath the surface,” Mr Tremblay replied.
The ministry suggested suing the former owner for hidden defects or hiring an environmental company.
“It’s going to cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars!” fears the resident of the site.
Sylvain Tremblay and his wife don’t understand why they are being abandoned when the city is willing to decontaminate the railway site in favor of a private developer.
Councilor Serge Gaudreault intends to submit the file to City Council.
“These citizens are left to their own devices!” complained the district council. Let’s put our pants on in town and come to the rescue of these people. We are not talking about very large sums of money!”
Sylvain Tremblay is hoping for a solution by autumn.