Certain residents of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge and Harrington could be eligible for payments from a class action that has been settled with Colacem, the former operator of a cement plant on the Kilmar Road. The amount of the settlement is $1.3 million.
To Kennedy, the settlement is a victory for area residents.
According to Québec Superior Court documents, plaintiff Lydia Kennedy, who then lived near Lac Grenville, alleged that as far back as 2008, emissions from the plant were having a negative effect on properties and the quality of life in the area.
On June 8, 2011 Kennedy filed a motion with the Québec Superior Court to begin the case. It was authorized by Superior Court Justice Donald Bisson on January 29, 2015.
On April 28, 2015, an application to begin the proceedings was filed by the plaintiff and hearings were scheduled to take place from September to November 2020.
However, on September 19, 2018, the plaintiff and Colacem reached an agreement before the hearings could proceed. Colacem, however, still denies it has caused any disturbances to the property owners in the area of the plant.
On January 28 of this year, Justice Bisson ruled in approval of the agreement.
Colacem is paying out $1.3 million to resolve the claims of nuisance and disturbance and is paying $135,000 to cover the costs of litigating this class action. The Montréal office of law firm Siskinds, Desmeules represents Kennedy. The firm was contacted for this story, but no response was received.
Colacem is represented by Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt, also of Montréal.
The documents state that Kennedy alleged fine particulate matter and droplets from the plant smokestack were landing on the ground, buildings, and vehicles. Complaints mentioned dust particles affecting the outdoor conditions in the area, including residents who were not able to hang laundry outside. The particles allegedly damaged the roof shingles on the houses and the surfaces on vehicles and lawn furniture.
The court documents refer to an article in The Review about complaints from residents on February 12, 2009 of black snow in the area, and concerns about how the emissions could affect their health.
In August 2009, a Québec environment department inspection revealed that the dust filters that would normally prevent particulate matter from being released, were faulty for the second time that year and that a permanent solution had to be found for the problem.
In September of that year, it was reported that Colacem was planning to install a new $300,000 filtration system and that the company admitted it had been releasing dust into the air.
However, Colacem insisted it was non-toxic and no worse that dust from a gravel road.
In February the Municipality of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge had formed a committee to address the issues residents were having related to the cement plant.
The reprieve from the dust was temporary, though. The court documents state the problem returned in the summer of 2010.
Since the class action was launched, Colacem has sold the Kilmar plant to Lehigh Cement. Production is no longer taking place at the facility, but materials are being trucked away for processing elsewhere.
Residents of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge and Harrington who could be eligible for compensation through this class action must live within a five-kilometre radius of the cement plant. The deadline to submit a claim is June 9, 2019. To view the agreement and details of the distribution protocol, visit: www.coladem-settlement.com or call Collectiva Class Action Services Inc., based in Montreal, at 1-800-287-8587.
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