The Centre de tri Forget once again sanctioned by the Ministry of the Environment
After being fined more than $247,380 for failing to comply with the Environment Quality Act (EQA), Brian Forget and his company, Centre de tri Forget inc. of Gatineau, had their ministerial authorization to operate a sorting centre revoked by the Ministry of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (MELCC) on 31 August 2022. This authorization, issued to the offenders on November 7, 2021, concerns the site at 33 Dumouchel Street, an industrial artery located in the Rivière-Blanche district.
The Centre de tri Forget inc., which is becoming known in the region for its violations of the EQA, systematically continues its activities in contravention of existing laws and in disregard of numerous warnings from the MELCC. The continuation of these activities has led, among other things, to fires in piles of residual materials and wood chips outside the areas provided for by the ministerial authorization. Several citizens' complaints were registered in connection with the centre.
The MELCC explained its decision in a press release: "In view of this continuing situation, the Minister is using the power at his disposal under sections 32 and 36 of the Act respecting certain measures for enforcing the laws relating to the environment and the safety of dams and is revoking the authorization of the Centre de tri Forget Inc.”.
The ministry also mentions that Brian Forget and his company are not at their first warning about the illegal activities taking place on their site. Indeed, they received a safeguard order from the Superior Court of Quebec on October 21, 2021, an interlocutory injunction from the Superior Court of Quebec on November 26, 2021, an order from the Minister on July 15, 2021, and the company's authorization was suspended on November 24, 2021.
Following 11 inspections and 10 notices of non-compliance with the EQA for the 33 Dumouchel Street site, Centre de tri Forget inc. and its administrator were fined more than $247,380 on June 3, 2022. The reasons for the notices and the numerous complaints behind the MELCC inspections mainly concern the storage process (including the illegal burial of waste), the materials stored and the failure to respect the areas designated for this process. The company will also have to proceed with the remediation of contaminated areas.
In April 2021, the MELCC's Direction régionale de l'analyse et de l'expertise de l'Outaouais (Outaouais regional analysis and expertise branch) shared a professional report written by Gabriel Machado, in which he mentions that the landfill activities of the Centre de tri Forget inc. may have contaminated the surrounding water and soil. The fires that broke out in the waste piles pose another significant risk to the environment, according to MELCC experts.
These risks, combined with the company's refusal to comply with orders and injunctions against it, led to a notice of revocation of a ministerial authorization being issued to Centre de tri Forget inc. and Brian Forget on July 19, 2022. Legally, the latter had 15 days to respond to the MELCC notice. Having received no response or observations from the company or its administrator, environmental authorities continue to monitor the situation at the site closely.
"The Ministry is determined to put an end to this situation and no recourse is ruled out to ensure the return to compliance of this site," concluded the Ministry of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change in its press release.
Brian Forget, contacted by the Bulletin, said he preferred to wait to consult his lawyer before commenting on the situation.
Photo credit: Sonia Roy
Photo caption: The site of 33 Dumouchel Street.