March 1, 2023
The Ministry of the Environment postpones until June 30, 2023 the entry into force of Traces Québec, a computer system that aims to ensure the traceability of excavated contaminated soil. This flagship tool of Quebec to counter illegal dumping was to be operational as of January 1 of this year.
Developed by the Attestra organization, Traces Québec should make it possible to follow in real time the movement of contaminated soil from its place of excavation to the site where it must be recovered, treated or buried. Through an “electronic tracking slip”, the system will ensure the geolocation of trucks transporting contaminated soil excavated in Quebec, transported both inside and outside the province.
However, Attestra – already responsible for the traceability of farm animals – “has fallen behind in the development of certain application modules”, including that relating to the connection of geolocation devices (GPS) integrated into company trucks. responsible for the disposal of contaminated soil, explains the Ministry of the Environment in an email.
Between the excavation and the disposal, there is sometimes a world that we do not know. Often, you only realize the problem when you see that soil has been dumped illegally.
— Karel Menard
The six-month postponement should allow Attestra to “finalize the application and [de] allow a test phase with carriers before the measure comes into force”, adds the ministry.
“The participation of transporters is essential to ensure the traceability of excavated contaminated soil and to combat illegal dumping, which is harmful to the environment and to the contaminated soil management industry,” reads a published bulletin. last fall by Attestra.
When the Regulation respecting the traceability of excavated contaminated soil was adopted in June 2021, the Ministère de l’Environnement estimated that more than three million metric tons of excavated contaminated soil were directed each year to sites authorized to receive it.
A major issue
In recent years, the Quebec government has tightened the framework for practices in the contaminated soil sector. In addition to the development of the Traces Québec system, he also raised the penalties for those who contravene the regulations. Administrative monetary penalties now range from $2,500 to $10,000 for corporations, and criminal penalties range from $7,500 to $6 million.
The stakes are high, according to Karel Ménard, director general of the Quebec Common Front for ecological waste management. Without traceability, it is impossible to know the cycle of treatment and disposal of contaminated soils. “Between the excavation and the disposal, there is sometimes a world that we do not know. Often, you only realize the problem when you see that soil has been dumped illegally. »
The considerations are not only environmental, they are also industrial. Mr. Ménard recalls that the industry has lobbied for tighter regulations in the sector in order to curb the delinquency of certain companies. “It’s a private sector initiative, because there are companies that, by acting in a not very kosher way, were competing unfairly. There was also, and above all, a lot of contamination because of often extremely contaminated wild deposits everywhere in the environment. »
Similar story from Kevin Morin, director general of the Council of Environmental Technology Companies of Quebec. “We want it to be implemented quickly, so that there are no illegal disposals of contaminated soil in areas that are not authorized. »The implementation of a geolocation system “will give additional leverage to the Ministry of the Environment to enforce the regulations,” he said. “The main idea is to be able to follow in real time the trucks transporting the contaminated soil. It is a great tool for ensuring the application of environmental requirements in the field. »
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