Environmental derogations: 11 Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean factories on the list

Environmental waivers: 11 Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean factories on the list


Eleven factories in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, including Rio Tinto's aluminum smelters, have obtained an exemption from the environmental standards in force, according to this list, which includes 89 in the province.

“I'm not surprised,” said a retiree who worked for more than 40 years at the multinational's Arvida factory. “We worked in the dust and in the shit over the head. But that doesn't worry me. If I hadn't had to go through this, I wouldn't have been here for a long time.”

It's not a surprise for the president of the Workers' Union either. aluminum from Alma, Sylvain Maltais.

“We are aware of this that these are factories that pollute, but on the other hand we know that we are in a factory where we can improve he said.

His union and the company agreed in 2020 to include a clause in the employment contract relating to the creation of an environmental committee.

“It is to improve our balance sheet and to make recommendations to the company compared to what we see,” explained Mr. Maltais. “The objective behind all this is the security of our jobs and the future of the plant.”

Rio Tinto has confirmed that its aluminum smelters are covered by clean-up certificates.

“The health and safety of our employees and the communities in which we operate are the priority. This is why we measure approximately 150 environmental parameters in each of our facilities and work continuously to reduce our emissions even further,” the company said in a written statement sent to the media.

The multinational added that it invests more than $300 million annually in improvement projects related to the environment and the health and safety of its employees.

PQ MP for Jonquière, Sylvain Gaudreault, deplored that Quebec has still not established a public register of these companies that benefit from this type of authorization.

“The reform of the Environment Act dates from 2017 and we do not still hasn't,” he noted. “To have exceptions is one thing. We must avoid having it and ensure that companies will modify their technology to reduce pollution. But to achieve that, you have to have access to information and that's what's currently lacking.”

Ten days before the election was called, he invited the candidates of the various parties to move in this direction.

Like Rio Tinto's aluminum smelters, Resolute Forest Products' pulp and paper mills and its Fibrek mill in Saint-Félicien are also on this list, as well than the Elkem Métal plant in Saguenay and the Niobec Mine in Saint-Honoré.