Exclusive: Province will have to pay for Pointe Claire PCB cleanup
Published Monday, September 16, 2013 12:23PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 16, 2013 6:58PM EDT
The Pointe Claire company that has been ordered to clean up illegally stored toxic waste may not be able to pay for the job, likely leaving the bill to taxpayers.
Reliance Power Corp. has been keeping PCBs from electrical transformers and other equipment on its grounds for years, without ever informing government officials.
The Ministry of the Environment learned of the oversight earlier this year, when about 1,000 L of toxic material spilled into the ground and made its way into Lake St. Louis.
A truck and a car sit in front of Reliance Power Equipment in Pointe Claire on Aug. 27. The Ministry of the Environment said the company is storing PCBs in an unsafe manner. It plans to take over the hazardous site as early as Tuesday.
Earlier this month, consultant Harry Baikowitz submitted a plan to clean up the site on Reliance's behalf, and the Ministry approved. However Baikowitz now says the plan will cost more than the company is worth.
"We worked with the Environment Department, we had a plan of action all agreed upon. With some tweaks on it we started last week and then the surprise came in when the environmental company which is going to do all the work said the cost would be $7 to 8 million," Baikowitz told CTV Montreal.
He said that Reliance Power Corp. only has $2.5 million in assets.
"They can't afford it," he said.
The difference in cost means the provincial government will likely have to take over the cleanup operation and pay the full cost. If the Environment Ministry does so, it will likely have to seize the assets of Reliance Power Corp., leaving the government $5 to 6 million in the red on this project.
“Yes, if the government does do (the cleanup), of course (taxpayers will pay),” said Baikowitz.
When asked on Aug. 30 if taxpayers would be on the hook for the cleanup, Reliance’s general manager Ted Marshall flatly said no.
“That's impossible, we're going to pay for it one way the other,” he said.
There is also the possibility of filing charges against the owner of Reliance Power, 83-year-old Birdie Marshall.