Giga-battery factory project in Montérégie | Northvolt and a subcontractor targeted by vandals

(Saint-Basile-le-Grand) Incendiary devices were placed on the Northvolt site, and the offices of one of its subcontractors suffered significant damage during the weekend, in Montérégie. Acts of vandalism which were not immediately claimed.


Posted at 1:28 p.m.

Updated at 6:55 p.m.

The story so far

Northvolt began site preparation work in January, in preparation for the construction of its giga-battery factory.

Acts of sabotage and blocking of the site have taken place since then, to slow down the progress of the work.

The Swedish multinational plans to begin construction during the summer.

Two incendiary objects were discovered under the tires of one or more construction machines on Monday morning, leading to the interruption of work for the day on the site straddling Saint-Basile-le-Grand and McMasterville where Northvolt undertook the construction of a giga-battery factory.

The two objects, initially presented as “homemade bombs” in a press release from the multinational, were allegedly placed during the weekend.

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PHOTO MARTIN TREMBLAY, THE PRESS

The Northvolt factory site, in Montérégie

These were bottles filled with a flammable liquid “attached to fairly rudimentary ignition mechanisms which, fortunately, thank God, did not work”, declared the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Northvolt North America, Paolo Cerruti, during a press briefing on the site.

These containers did not have the capacity to explode, indicated to The Press police sources.

Northvolt denounced “in the strongest possible manner” this act of vandalism “seriously endangering” its employees and those of its subcontractors, and which represents neither Quebec nor Quebecers, declared Mr. Cerruti.

Security thwarted… and reinforced

The fact that the security system in place could have been thwarted by one or more people hardly surprises the CEO, who points out that the perimeter of the site is almost five kilometers.

Dismissing the idea of ​​mobilizing “a battalion of people to [en] monitor every square meter”, he rather appeals to the sense of responsibility of the opponents of the project.

Security will nevertheless be increased, said Mr. Cerruti, without giving more details so as not to “simplify the lives of these people”.

Security agents in vehicles and on foot were also clearly visible around the site on Monday.

The installation of these explosive devices is not the work of Climate Rage, a coalition of anti-capitalist, anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist environmental activists having organized the blocking of the site and demonstrations in recent months, she said. affirmed to The Press.

An anonymous group having carried out sabotage actions did not call back The Press.

“The objective of the people who committed these acts is to cause fear. However, it is exactly the opposite effect that they obtained,” he added, saying he was more determined than ever to carry out this project, which enjoys great support.

We are and we will always be in dialogue, and we will refuse dialogue under the threat of violence.

Paolo Cerruti, Northvolt

This attempted vandalism was described as unacceptable by the Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy of Quebec, Pierre Fitzgibbon, and by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry of Canada, François-Philippe Champagne.

“Debate always, violence never,” Mr. Fitzgibbon said on the social network X.

“Violent activities and intimidation tactics have no place in our society,” said Mr. Champagne, on the same platform.

The Richelieu–Saint-Laurent Intermunicipal Police Board will carry out assessments on the incendiary objects to try to find the perpetrators of this attempted vandalism, indicated its spokesperson, Lieutenant Sébastien Desaulniers.

Local business vandalized

Vandals also attacked the Urban Wood Recovery Center, a non-profit local economy company whose services Northvolt retained to cut down trees on its land.

The premises of the small business, located in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, were sprayed with brown paint on Friday evening, probably with a water gun, said its general manager, Maxime Bourdeau.

“They sprayed everything, absolutely everything”, starting from a previously smashed window, he said, with supporting photos: desks, chairs, computers, walls, ceilings, floors, documents.

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PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE URBAN WOOD RECOVERY CENTER

The premises of the Urban Wood Development Center were sprayed with brown paint on Friday evening.

“We can’t just paint over it,” lamented Mr. Bourdeau, saying he did not know for the moment whether his company’s insurance covers acts of vandalism.

We do not understand the reasoning of these people, to destroy the offices of a non-profit social economy organization, which tries to do good. I don’t see how this can help the cause of someone who is against the project.

Maxime Bourdeau, Urban Wood Development Center

The mission of the Urban Wood Valorization Center is to “transform urban trees into products so that communities use them and benefit from them,” he recalled on social networks, emphasizing that the wood cut at the request of Northvolt “would have simply been thrown away, crushed, burned or even sold abroad” if he had not been mandated to collect it.

The company now takes care of the slaughtering component itself, since this step is decisive for the possibilities of recovery afterwards, explained Mr. Bourdeau.

The Longueuil Agglomeration Police Department has opened an investigation.

With Daniel Renaud, The Press

Learn more

  • 7.3 billion
    Maximum amount that Quebec and Ottawa have committed to investing in the Northvolt project

    SOURCES: GOVERNMENTS OF QUEBEC AND CANADA

    100 hectares
    Approximate area of ​​natural environments that Northvolt plans to destroy to build its battery cell factory

    Source: MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT, THE FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE, WILDLIFE AND PARKS

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