05/12/2014 12:49 EDT | Updated 07/12/2014 05:59 EDT

Lac-Mégantic rail disaster oil remains in Chaudière River

The river that runs through Lac-Mégantic, Que., is still contaminated with oil almost a year after a train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in the centre of town killing 47 people.

Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel released the findings of an expert committee on the state of the Chaudière River at a news conference in Sainte-Marie, Que., on Monday morning.

An estimated 100,000 litres of oil spilled into the Chaudière River in July and Heurtel said that despite efforts to clean the riverbanks and sediment, a 30-kilometre stretch of the river still has considerable levels of oil along the bottom of the river.

So far, the province has spent $16 million to clean up the river and Heurtel said there's still work to be done if the river is to return to its original state.

"We're talking about not only the water itself, but along the banks, and everything that's involved with that," Heurtel said.

"It's going to take time, but we want to do the right thing ... it's a long process and it is very costly."

The report released today also recommends several priorities as the cleanup work progresses. 

Recommendations for 2014-15

- Release an up-to-date portrait of presence of petroleum hydrocarbons contamination in the river's sediment.

- Document the level of toxicity in the river's sediment.

- Pinpoint segments of the river where contamination levels are high enough to pose a threat to the ecosystem.

- Identify the environmental impacts of different cleaning methods and outline an intervention plan.

- Ensure environmental monitoring of the river.