News | Waste management firm sued

Locals accuse GSI of neglect and mismanagement of landfills

GSI Environment, a company specializing in organic waste management, is facing charges for a number of violations of the Environment Quality Act. The Quebec Ministry of Environment has decided to sue the company for the contamination of GSI’s waste treatment sites, as well as in response to civilian complaints about the stench emanating from their landfills.

L’Ange-Gardien, an Outaouais municipality, is only one of the communities affected by GSI’s apparent neglect of the composting sites. The municipality has requested an injunction from the Quebec Superior Court to either force the company to abide by environmental regulations or to discontinue their operations.

Alain Descarreaux, the General Manager of the municipality, said that the company has not been active at the location for over a year.

“What pushed us to take legal action was the smell. We received a number of complaints from residents located near the site,” explained Descarreaux.

The treatment site has fallen into disrepair since GSI abandoned it – a problem linked to the presence of non-compostable materials such as septic waste, plastic bags, and “garbage juice.”

“They’ve stopped using the factory and receiving waste products,” said Descarreaux. “I think the principal issue was that the company received larger quantities [of waste] than what it was able to manage on site. With so much accumulating, there was no way all materials could be treated inside the plant.”

Steve McLeod, founder of Compost Montreal, an independent composting service, is concerned that corporate endeavours in waste management do not prioritize sustainability.

“If the motivation is economic or political, then the results are not going to be as ecologically friendly as they could be. We’re trying to increase the amount of [waste] treatment infrastructure and instead we’re facing massive reductions [in the quality of waste treatment] because of contamination issues.”

GSI also faces charges of environmental infractions stemming from complaints of mismanagement of its landfills in the communities of Lachute and Saint-Basile.

McLeod mentioned that systemic neglect and improper aeration is a likely cause for the smells associated with composting. “It’s a risk we’re all running if we’re not paying attention to how we’re doing things,” he added.

McLeod also commented on L’Ange-Gardien’s initiative to have the site closed.

“I would rather not see the city’s passive involvement. We should be paying attention to the quality of what comes out [of the site] to create demand for the compost. At the end of the day, we’re still a capitalist society. We need to find a balance between the economic and the ecological.”

The company officially remains in operation, and is expected to resume management of its sites.GSI, a subdivision of EnGlobe Corporations, was unavailable for comment.