Chapais is on a quest for garbage. If the town of Chapais has its way, garbage from as far away as Montreal will soon be winding up in a new dump that town officials want to build just outside Ouje-Bougoumou.

Chapais has yet to meet with Crees to discuss the dump, which is to be built 12 km away from Ouje-Bougoumou at the old Metall Mining site. The town isn’t even saying if it will hold public hearings into the dump.

Claudine Jacques, economic development agent for Chapais, said the dump will have to import waste from across the province in order to be profitable. “It’s sure we’re working to get garbage from outside the region.” For now, the town is trying to get funding and permits for a $3 25-mil-lion dump pilot project which will process 31 tonnes of waste each day. So far, Chapais and a U.S. multinational waste disposal firm are each kicking in $500,000. It’s still not clear when construction will start, but Jacques said the pilot project won’t get going for at least one year.

Chief Abel Bosum of Ouje-Bougoumou said Chapais is building the pilot project first as a way of sneaking in a much larger dump later on. Eventually, the dump may even bring in highly toxic chemical waste.

“They’re trying to disguise it as collecting garbage and storing it. The ultimate objective is to bring in all this garbage from the cities,” he said.

“I don’t think they’re willing to talk about the ultimate objective.” Chief Bosum said the dump could have serious impacts on the local environment, especially if some of the garbage is incinerated. Studies show that burning wastes releases poisonous gases into the air.

“There hasn’t been any real review of the impacts, both environmentally and socially,” said the Chief.

The dump idea has even sparked opposition in Chapais among people concerned about the environment.

Jacques acknowledged that the dump pilot project is just a first step in the town’s plans. “There is always a possibility of expansion.”