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“Incendiary devices” found at the construction site of the Northvolt EV battery plant in Quebec

MONTREAL — A company building a large electric vehicle battery factory in Quebec says incendiary devices were found at its construction site east of Montreal on Monday morning, the latest act of alleged vandalism against the project.

The devices consisted of bottles filled with a flammable liquid with a “vestigial” ignition system, said Paolo Cerruti, co-founder of Swedish manufacturer Northvolt. Cerruti, who is also CEO of Northvolt North America, told reporters that the ignition system “allowed for some delay” before the bottles were about to ignite, but “thank God it didn’t work.”

Northvolt initially called the devices “homemade bombs” in a press release, but Cerruti later called them “incendiary devices.”

Cerruti said multiple bottles were placed under the tires of “some pieces of equipment” at the scene. Chantal Graveline, together with Richelieu-Saint-Laurent police, confirmed that officers discovered incendiary devices under the vehicle and that an investigation is ongoing.

Monday’s discovery is the latest act of alleged vandalism at the site of Northvolt’s future $7 billion electric vehicle battery plant. Situated between two municipalities approximately 30 kilometers east of Montreal – McMasterville and Saint-Basile-le-Grand – the 170-hectare facility is expected to open by the end of 2026. Initial capacity is expected to produce approximately 30 gigawatt-hours of production cells per year, enough to power one million vehicles.

Since the project was announced in September, the project has faced opposition from environmental groups and the Mohawk community, who say the plant is being built on environmentally sensitive land and is not properly reviewed.

In late February, police launched an investigation after people placed spiked mats at the site. The vehicle was also damaged.

In January, the company said nails or metal rods were driven into about 100 trees. An anonymous group claimed responsibility on an anarchist website, claiming that their “sabotage” was motivated by a protest against a megaproject that they believed would destroy forests and wetlands and perpetuate car culture.

Cerruti said the location is considered a crime scene and that the business is waiting for police approval to reopen, which he expected to happen before the end of the day. He said if the vandals’ goal was to create fear among Northvolt workers and other companies on site, it had the opposite effect.

“We are more determined than ever to move forward,” he said. “We have the support of the community.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2024.

Canadian Press