Quebec suspends an authorization issued to a delinquent company which has multiplied environmental offenses for several years.
The Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks (MELCCFP) announced Friday that Service 3R Valorisation will have to interrupt part of its activities until it has carried out the required work. within the framework of recourses provided for by the Environment Quality Act (EQA).
The MELCCFP invokes Article 32 of the Act respecting certain measures allowing the application of laws relating to the environment and dam safety. This provides in particular that the Minister of the Environment may refuse or suspend an authorization to a company which has been declared “guilty of an offense under any law for which the Minister is responsible for the application or one of his regulations”.
This is only the second time that the Minister has invoked this new legislative provision to suspend or revoke an authorization already issued. This measure has not yet been used to deny a new authorization to a delinquent company.
Over the years, several inspections carried out by the Ministry have concluded that Service 3R Valorisation did not meet the conditions set out to operate a material recovery site in Montreal.
Since 2010, several notices of non-compliance have been sent to the company. It was fined two administrative monetary penalties of $2,500 and $10,000 in 2015 and 2021. After a criminal investigation, Service 3R Valorisation was also fined $30,508 in 2020.
In 2021, the company was also condemned for not having respected the conditions of the certificate of authorization issued by Quebec. The decision was appealed by its owner, Simon Bergeron.
La Presse recently reported that several companies that do not respect environmental laws continue their operations and even have their projects authorized by Quebec. Two environmental groups are also urging the government to use its powers against companies that break the law.
Since the adoption of Law 102, in 2021, the Minister of the Environment has new powers, which allow him, among other things, to refuse an application for authorization submitted by a “delinquent promoter” or to suspend an authorization already issued. . At the time of the tabling of his bill, Minister Benoit Charette expressed his frustration at seeing “offenders” able to obtain new authorizations from his ministry.
According to Alain Branchaud, general manager of CPAWS Quebec, the Ministry of the Environment should more severely punish promoters who destroy natural environments. He believes that the Ministry could draw inspiration from the Act respecting contracting by public bodies. This provides that companies found guilty of certain offenses are no longer eligible for public contracts for a period of five years.
“In order to restore confidence in the process of issuing certificates of authorization, Quebec should examine the possibility of temporarily ineligible for any new application a promoter who has committed an offense that has led to the destruction of a natural environment, says Ms. .Branchaud. This strong gesture would send a signal that recess is over and that our environmental laws must be respected. »
For his part, lawyer Marc Bishai, of the CQDE, believes that Quebec could “strengthen the environmental legal framework so as to make the sanctions more dissuasive, for example by setting fines calculated according to the company’s income”. He gives as an example the federal law on competition which provides that a penalty can be set at 3% of the gross income of a company.