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Sewer dump on hold

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MONTREAL—The federal government is “irresponsible and negligent” to have ordered a halt to the City of Montreal’s plans to begin construction work that would see eight billion litres of raw sewage dumped into the St. Lawrence River, Mayor Denis Coderre said yesterday.

Coderre said Ottawa’s decision “makes no sense” and puts the city’s water-treatment infrastructure in jeopardy.

“Why is Montreal living this injustice?” Coderre asked, suggesting the government’s decision had more to do with the current federal election campaign than with sound science.

Infrastructure minister Denis Lebel made the announcement earlier yesterday on behalf of Environment minister Leona Aglukkaq, saying she had issued an interim order under the Fisheries Act to put Montreal’s project on hold pending further scientific analysis.

“Based on limited data, Environment Canada cannot conclude whether or not the untreated waste water to be released will be acutely toxic,” Lebel said.

The City of Montreal wants to close an interceptor—a large sewer used to feed wastewater to treatment plants—to do maintenance work and relocate a snow chute located underneath the Bonaventure Expressway, which the city is converting into an urban boulevard.

The city had planned to begin dumping the untreated wastewater into the river this Sunday and continue until Oct. 25.

City officials have warned it’s paramount the work be completed by mid-November.

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