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Northvolt has submitted its application for a license to build its own “Gigafactory”.

Northvolt has submitted its application for a license to build its own “Gigafactory”.

Even before obtaining a license to destroy the majority of the natural habitat at its site, Northvolt had applied for a license to build its own “megafactory.” But on Tuesday, the government refused to provide us with the documents submitted by the company. One thing's for sure, Quebec still doesn't have details on pumping and discharging water into the Richelieu River, as far as we've learned. duty.

Because the project escapes the environmental assessment procedures normally provided for large industrial projects, Northvolt was able to move forward by submitting a “licence application” which must be approved by the Minister of the Environment, Climate Change Control, Wildlife and Parks (MELCCFP). , Benoit Charette.

The information available in the Ministry's registry only indicates that the company submitted the following request: “Establish a giant battery production factory and establish a rainwater management system.” On Tuesday, MELCCFP refused to send us the documents submitted as part of this request. Instead, our request was transferred to the Ministry’s “Main Directorate for Intelligence, Access to Information, Ethics and Complaints.”

The Quebec Environmental Law Center regrets the fact that it is necessary to consider such a request for documents submitted by Northvolt on December 22 as part of its license application. “This information cannot be obtained with one click, as we promised you. The organization says it is very disappointing because work has resumed at the project site or is about to resume. In 2018, the Legault government committed to creating a public registry of environmental information.

The memorandum introducing Northvolt's application does not actually provide details about what Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon described as “the most beautiful private project” in Quebec's history: the number of buildings, the justification for the choice of technologies, construction schedules, and the impacts on circulation and air quality. , power supply, planned production, etc.

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All this information regarding the construction of the factory could have been published if the developer had been forced to implement it Impact study in accordance with the MELCCFP “Guidance”.. This should have also analyzed the integration of the project with the landscape, but also the concerns of citizens.

Richelieu River

The study also addressed issues of water consumption from the Richelieu River and its discharge into the same river. However, MELCCFP noted duty On Tuesday, he had not yet obtained information about pumping this river (to feed industrial processes in particular) or discharging the water. “No application for a license has been submitted on this subject,” the ministry said via email.

In a Wildlife Opinion dated 19 October 2023, MELCCFP experts nevertheless emphasized that “it is impossible to analyze the impacts of the project on the habitats of the Richelieu River due to the lack of information about the nature of the work, the size of the samples and the volume of samples taken.” The nature of discharges on the coast was not presented for analysis.

The document he obtained duty At the same time, he points out the risk of “impact” on aquatic fauna and flora, in particular on five endangered species. The presence of the Northvolt Red Copper Horse may require a permit under the Species at Risk Act.

Ongoing business

The “receipt date” for Northvolt’s application is December 22, 2023, just over two weeks before the company gets a permit to demolish 138,000 square metres.2 Wetlands and approximately 8,700 trees were cut down on the site. Please note: The final “Analysis Report” of the wetland “intervention” application produced by MELCCFP to assess impacts on biodiversity and identify mitigation measures is dated 8 January, the day of the government permit.

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Northvolt is currently carrying out wetland and vegetation destruction work. The construction of the usine was poured this year this year, and the production was launched in 2026. A “faunique” product produced by the scientific research of the “haute valuable ecology” of the site, which is “a rare natural habitat” On the side.

The Swedish multinational company did not respond to our questions on Tuesday.

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