A distillery that gives headaches

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A distillery that gives headaches

For more than two decades, black deposits on houses, cars, etc., have fueled anger in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield . Citizens are angry with the multinational Diageo for this nuisance.

Toy stained with black deposits.

When you arrive at Louise Lacasse, it is obvious: her backyard seems to be an extension of that of the distillery. This powerful neighbour, whom she has known for 32 years, is becoming more and more invasive.

“Now it's unbelievable, it's really disturbing. It's dirt, it's noise, it's hell. »

— Louise Lacasse

Louise Lacasse leads a fight against the Diageo distillery.

To clean everything, Ms. Lacasse used to operate the high-pressure machine once a year. She now does it every six months.

This energetic woman is aging and would like a contractor to do the job. A $2,300 bid for her duplex, fence and the rest put her off. Moreover, by dint of […] washing and rewashing, the coating is damaged. For the past fifteen years, she has had to change it twice.

Last spring, the noise of the trucks was the straw that broke the camel's back. The sound when they back up, even at night and on weekends, is very hard on mental health, she says.

The toys in this daycare are stained with black deposits.

Exasperated, she launched a petition. She went door to door in three neighborhoods affected by this nuisance, which allowed her to see the fed up of the population. At home daycare owner France Perras, the sight is startling: many black-stained toys are tucked away in her yard.

“I removed all the toys […] that they can no longer use […] because it's too dark. And I don't have time. Listen, it's work, doing that here. »

—France Perras

Last October, Louise Lacasse tabled her petition during the municipal council meeting. It is the third in 20 years. By combining her petition with that of 2014, she collected 1372 signatures.

Diageo distillery in Salaberry-de -Valleyfield

Diageo is the world's largest manufacturer and distributor of alcohol. The brands Johnny Walker, Smirnoff, Baileys, Captain Morgan and Crown Royal made her famous.

Far from being intimidated, Ms. Lacasse launched: What I want is that the company takes its responsibilities, that there are no more fumes. […] That we have reimbursements on all costs.

In the cemetery next to the distillery, the monuments have changed color, except for those that relatives of the deceased rub regularly. This is the case of Pierre Prégent: It's a desolate place when it should be a place where we come to recharge our batteries, see our parents or our friends. […] It's sad.

Cemetery adjacent to the Diageo distillery, in Salaberry -de-Valleyfield

Jacques Brodeur, researcher and professor of biological sciences, describes the phenomenon that has a poetic name: the share of the angels.

“C& #x27;is the two to four percent alcohol that is emitted into the atmosphere during the maturation process of whiskeys, spirits in general.

—Jacques Brodeur, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Montreal

These juices, which are extremely interesting for the development of moulds, fungi or yeasts, then settle on the structures.

Jacques Brodeur, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Montreal.

The Baudoinia compniacensis, commonly known as the whiskey fungus, is found everywhere in the world where there are distilleries. No doubt for Jacques Brodeur: the cause of the blackening in the Salaberry-de-Valleyfield region is the whiskey fungus. James Scott, his University of Toronto colleague who discovered the fungus, also confirmed it.

However, the company denies responsibility. She declined interview requests from The Invoice. In an email, however, she wrote: We are very proud of the efforts we are making…environmentally…investing in scrubbers that recover ethanol emitted during fermentation operations .

We care deeply about the community and are sensitive to concerns raised about exterior blackening of some properties. We do not believe that our activities spread mold in the community of Valleyfield. Mold exists everywhere in the environment, she added.

This system of scrubbers is a resounding failure, according to Ms. Lacasse. Since 2020, since they supposedly put filters on, it's been worse than worse, she claims.

Two days after the petition was filed, the City organized a citizens' assembly. Many of them called on their mayor, Miguel Lemieux, who denies being too close to the multinational. At La invoice, he claims to have no interest in protecting anyone because anyway, it's us, it's the City that picks up with the problem.

Several people are worried about their health. The mayor said he understood them.

“What citizens are asking for is to be sure that it is not dangerous for their health and that is normal. And that's why we called on public health for the umpteenth time in this case. »

— Miguel Lemieux, Mayor of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield

In 2015, the Public Health Department (DSP) of Montérégie concluded that the proliferation of the [mushroom] does not pose any particular risk to the health of people residing near the distillery. However, the DSP advises caution when carrying out intensive high-pressure cleaning.

Environmental lawyer Christine Duchaine says industry and residents are too close to l each other: It's a problem of urban planning […]. Cities want to develop their territory and they will often not hesitate to identify or dezone an area to allow residential development.

Christine Duchaine, environmental law lawyer.

Recently, the City authorized new construction on Marleau Street, located very close to the distillery. Miguel Lemieux specifies that he consulted the population before accepting the dezoning. In his eyes, the scrubbers would solve the problem. We realize that it does not work. This is why we are relaunching the file more than ever.

The Ministry of the Environment is satisfied with the tests carried out by Diageo itself in 2020. They showed that the scrubber had a recovery efficiency of 95%. Thus, this equipment is considered to be effective, writes the ministry.

This polluting company even received $29 million from Quebec last year. A green plan for the electrification of the distillery announced in November 2021 by François Legault in the company of a Diageo executive. The Prime Minister revealed that this beautiful announcement would allow the company to eliminate 100% of its GHGs.

No one said a word about the whiskey mushroom. Louise Lacasse is outraged: The Ministry of the Environment has known about the problem for 20 years, but they do nothing about it. It's fine for greenhouse gases, but why aren't they fixing this problem?

Selling your house and settling in Estrie near your son is an unattainable dream. Her voice tied with emotion, she says she is unable to abandon her elderly mother who lives above her. This fighter pulls herself together and announces that she is preparing to bring a class action against Diageo.

The report by Esther Normand is broadcast on La facture Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. on ICI Télé.

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