Northvolt Says It Faces 'sabotage' At Site Of Future Quebec EV Battery Plant | CBC News


An anonymous group claimed responsibility on an anarchist website, saying the motive for their “sabotage” was to protest a megaproject they say will destroy woods and wetlands and perpetuate car culture.

Nails, metal bars inserted into trees, company says

Stéphane Blais · The Canadian Press

· Posted: Jan 23, 2024 6:41 PM EST | Last Updated: January 23

A photo from last week shows several downed trees. The Swedish company has now been ordered to stop cutting trees while a court hears a request for an injunction. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)Swedish manufacturer Northvolt says the site of its future electric vehicle battery plant near Montreal was sabotaged after nails were driven into trees that are set to be cut down.

Northvolt spokesperson Emmanuelle Rouillard-Moreau says nails or metal bars were inserted into about 100 trees Monday night at its 170-hectare site, which straddles the communities of McMasterville and Saint-Basile-le-Grand, on the South Shore.

The company said in an email that such tactics can carry “significant risks for the safety of workers and surrounding communities.”

An anonymous group claimed responsibility on an anarchist website, saying the motive for its “sabotage” was to protest a megaproject it says will destroy woods and wetlands and perpetuate car culture.

Writing on website Montreal Counter-Information, the group said putting the “steel bars and nails” in the tree trunks was an attempt to damage heavy machinery and make the forest tougher and costlier to log.

“Today, we call for a broad mobilization against the destructive project of the Northvolt mega-factory,” they wrote. “We must attack this machine that grinds up the living by targeting its weak points.”

Federal Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne denounced the alleged sabotage as “completely unacceptable.”

“In a free and democratic society, people have the right to express themselves,” he said in Montreal, adding that “if people have objections to make, there are other ways to do it.”

Champagne described Northvolt’s decision to build a $7-billion electric battery plant near Quebec as a “generational opportunity” and that the company is conscious of the environment.

Northvolt announced the project late last year, which it claims will represent the largest private investment in Quebec’s history.

Northvolt wants to build a massive plant on the border of McMasterville and Saint-Basile-le-Grand, about 30 kilometres east of Montreal. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)Legal hurdlesThe company also confirmed Tuesday that work remains suspended on the site following an injunction request by an environmental rights group, the Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement, and three citizens. The plaintiffs argue the future facility sits on land that is environmentally sensitive and home to several endangered species.

A hearing on the injunction was expected to happen Tuesday but was instead postponed to the following day after a request made by the City of Saint-Basile-le-Grand and an agreement between the parties, Northvolt said.

In the meantime, Quebec Superior Court Justice David R. Collier has ordered the company not to cut down any trees in or within 500 metres of wetlands until the case is heard.

Late Tuesday, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke (MCK) announced it had filed a lawsuit with the Quebec Superior Court to get the provincial and federal governments to consult the community about the battery plant, which will be located about 45 kilometres east of the Kahnawà:ke.

“Given the importance of wetlands to our environment and their role in helping to mitigate the effects of climate change, we fully support the decision to file this lawsuit,” said the director of the Kahnawà:ke Environment Protection Office, Benjamin Green-Stacey.

“Additionally, failure to mitigate the effects of this construction will result in the senseless loss of many species at risk in the area.”

WATCH | A look at where the Northvolt plant will be located in Quebec: 

See the site in Quebec where Northvolt wants to build an EV battery plantNorthvolt, a Swedish company and a giant in the field of electric vehicle batteries, has earmarked land near the Richelieu River in Saint-Basile-le-Grand east of Montreal, to build a massive, multibillion-dollar EV battery plant. Work halted in January pending the outcome of a court injunction request by an environmental group.

With files from CBC

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