Injunction against Anacolor inc.
TJL represented the citizens of Cap-Rouge in all their legal proceedings against Anacolor inc. The metal painting company, which operated in the heart of the residential neighbourhood of Old Cap-Rouge, was releasing contaminants into the environment that were affecting the health, well-being and comfort of residents and people who visited the area. The plaintiffs demanded that the company comply with the environmental standards that applied to it.
The problem initially manifested itself in strong solvent and paint odours causing headaches, throat irritation and nausea. Following numerous complaints, the Direction de la Santé publique (DSP) conducted a study that resulted in a report published in July 2016. In its report, the DSP found that Anacolor exceeded emission standards for several volatile organic compounds and recommended that mitigation measures to control emissions from the plant be implemented as soon as possible.
However, the report noted the significant limitations of the study, which did not analyze all the volatile organic compounds that could be released from Anacolor, nor the pigments and metallic dusts that were used in the paints used, some of which were categorized as known carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
The issues at stake therefore went far beyond the odour problem, which was only the alarm bell for the citizens affected.
Several members of the Regroupement citoyen pour la qualité de l’air à Cap-Rouge have initiated legal proceedings to put an end to these nuisances. Catherine Arrouart has been designated as representative of the class action, while Louis Beaupré and Patrick Martel have filed an application seeking an injunction.
At the same time, Anacolor applied to the Tribunal administratif du Québec to challenge certain conditions of the certificate of authorization which allowed it to operate. More specifically, Anacolor contested the 90% reduction threshold imposed on the company’s daily emissions of volatile organic compounds. The affected citizens also intervened in this recourse.
The citizens and the company reached an out-of-court agreement providing for the relocation of Anacolor’s operations to an industrial park and the cessation of painting activities in Cap-Rouge. As Judge Alicia Soldevila noted in the judgment approving the agreement: “The class action and the application for an injunction were aimed much more at cleaning up the ambient air than at obtaining financial compensation” [our translation]. It is therefore with great pride that we can say “Mission accomplished!” The judge ended her judgment by recognizing the work of the citizens’ lawyers:
The sustained collective efforts of TJL and JFB have helped to restore the reputation of the procedural vehicle that is the class action, which has, in some cases, been tarnished by the media and in public opinion due to the small amounts collected and distributed to class members in comparison with the fees billed by the lawyers. [our translation]
The citizens of Cap-Rouge were represented by TJL in collaboration with Jean-François Bertrand Avocats.