Incendiary devices found under heavy machinery on Northvolt’s future EV battery plant in Quebec

Swedish manufacturer Northvolt says homemade incendiary devices were found Monday morning under machinery on the site of its future electric vehicle battery plant near Montreal.

The company described the devices as containers with flammable liquid inside. The devices did not detonate.

Paolo Cerruti, president and CEO of Northvolt North America, said in a news release Monday that the devices were placed with “the clear intention of injuring our workers and presumably slowing down our operations.”

Cerruti condemned attempts to frighten crews and interrupt progress on a project that he said will ultimately be beneficial to the environment as these car batteries are an alternative to burning fossil fuels.

This is not the first time the Northvolt site has been targeted by vandals. Back in January, the Swedish manufacturer said the site was sabotaged after nails were driven into trees that are set to be cut down.

The future Northvolt plant, located in Saint-Basile-le-Grand, Que., was targeted by vandals over the weekend, the company says. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

An anonymous group claimed responsibility for the sabotaged trees on an anarchist website, saying the motive was to protest a project that will destroy woods and wetlands and perpetuate car culture.

“What these people want to do is scare us, to dissuade us from going forward,” said Cerruti during a news conference Monday. “We are more than ever determined to go forward, to be successful.”

Man in safety glasses and a neon bright safety coat and white hard hat stands in front of a stack of felled trees.
Northvolt’s CEO Paolo Cerruti condemned the attempts to frighten crews and interrupt progress on the project. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The 170-hectare site straddles the communities of McMasterville and Saint-Basile-le-Grand, about 30 kilometres southeast of Montreal.

A spokesperson for the local police service, Régie intermunicipale de police Richelieu Saint-Laurent, said authorities were called to the site at 7:25 a.m. and incendiary objects were found under heavy machinery. Police removed the devices and are still investigating.

Cerruti said Monday that work will continue on the site as soon as police give the green light. He declined to say how many incendiary devices were found on the site, and said he has nothing to say to those who are targeting the site. Instead, he said, the company welcomes civil discourse with the community. 

“These tactics are completely unacceptable,” Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon wrote on the social media platform X.

“We are lucky to live in one of the most beautiful democratic and peaceful societies in the world. We must defend it. Always debate. Never violence.”

vandalized office
The Centre de valorisation du bois urbain posted photos to its Facebook page showing vandalism in its offices. (Centre de valorisation du bois urbain/Facebook)

A non-profit organization, Centre de valorisation du bois urbain (CVBU), said on Facebook that its offices were vandalized Friday. 

The organization is partnered with Northvolt, cutting and harvesting the wood for future use rather than leaving it to be chipped or discarded. The organization was also mandated to plant 24,000 trees in connection to the Northvolt work.

Vandalizing an environmental organization in an effort to protect the environment is counterproductive, the post says.

“Under no circumstances does the CVBU make the decision to cut down trees,” the organization said on Facebook Monday. “When trees are cut down, we make sure they are cut down so we can get the most out of them.”

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