Home News Asphalt production suspended at quarry 

Asphalt production suspended at quarry 

JFK quarry’s asphalt machine in operation last year. Though asphalt season started in the last couple of weeks, the quarry is not permitted to reopen asphalt production until new regulations are implemented. File photo

The start of asphalt season at the JFK quarry is delayed this year, with the quarry not permitted to open its plant until regulations are created pertaining to asphalt under the Kahnawake Sanitary Conditions law, according to Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) portfolio chief Ryan Montour. 

The last time the asphalt machines were operated was last year, before the asphalt plant closed for the winter months. The quarry received a letter from the MCK in December telling them not to reopen until new regulations were created, and Montour said that the quarry won’t be benefiting from any kind of temporary permit while those are drafted. 

“Unfortunately, there is no interim permit under the Sanitary Conditions Law,” said Montour on the possibility of the quarry being granted a temporary permit to continue asphalt production until regulations are drafted.  

“That idea was proposed, but we just can’t do it.” 

The Council table mandated MCK’s Public Safety Division to look into the development of regulations that would address the concerns raised by some community members in relation to asphalt in recent months, namely smells and health issues they allege could be related to the site. Council also hired a professional consultant specialized in health and safety of quarry operations to inform them of best practices related to asphalt.  

Lloyd Phillips, the MCK’s director of public safety, said the regulations are needed to fill a gap in terms of laws relating to asphalt operations in the community.  

“Right now, there are no regulations. That’s why we need to create them. There are industry norms and safety standards that are in place, but in terms of Kahnawake, there are no regulations,” Phillips said.  

A protest at the quarry in April resulted in an open house being held there earlier this month to meet with the community. Quarry owner Frank McComber said that the quarry complies with the highest industry standards regarding its operations and has nothing to hide.  

“We follow all the rules and regulations that apply to having an asphalt plant, and we’ve given MCK every document that they’ve asked for, and above,” he said.  

In the past, no permit or regulation has existed for asphalt operations in Kahnawake, Phillips said.  

“Currently, a permit can’t be issued for asphalt because there is no regulation or criteria to follow. If you’re applying for a permit, there’s nothing to judge whether or not you can get a permit,” Phillips said. “So unfortunately, we have to take a couple of steps back so we can put something in place that will be acceptable to our community, and then they can proceed after that.” 

The draft regulations will follow the Community Decision Making and Review Process (CDMRP), with a technical drafting committee working out details for community consultation. The technical drafting committee includes Phillips, Montour, and Kahnawake Legislative Services (KLS) legal counsel Trisha Delormier, and input will be sought from environmental health services and the Kahnawake Environment Protection Office (KEPO).  

Phillips hopes the process will be relatively quick, but said timelines are flexible and that the key motive is to consult with the community thoroughly.  

“Part of the process is the community feedback and engagement, and we’re still working out those details, but people will definitely have the opportunity to give their input,” he said, adding that he hopes to have some preliminary draft regulations in the next week or so. He added that regulations may come after 30 days but could take 60 days. 

McComber told The Eastern Door that he is still asking for an interim permit.  

“We’re hoping that they give us an interim permit. We’ve sent many requests about it and we’re hoping it comes in. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” he said. 

McComber was first told in December that the asphalt operations needed to be paused, in a letter from the MCK. McComber said the lack of MCK-specific regulations hasn’t been an issue in the past. 

“It’s not like they didn’t know we were open. They all know we’re here – we’ve been running for two years. They put bids out about asphalt in our community, and we’ve bid with many companies,” he said.  

“It’s a political thing, and whatever happens, happens. But at the end of the day, we’ve got a business to run, and we’re going to do the best we can to make sure it’s done right and properly, like we have since the beginning.” 

Phillips said that community members should expect updates on consultation sessions in the coming weeks. 

evedcable@gmail.com 

This article was originally published in print on May 17 in issue 33.20 of The Eastern Door.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.