Taxpayers face $23m Sysco bill
TERA CAMUS / Cape Breton Bureau
The old universal mill awaits demolition at the
site of the former Sydney steel plant. It's
expected the mill will be levelled by year's end.
Provincial website indicates cleanup to cost extra $10m
By TERA CAMUS / Cape Breton Bureau
SYDNEY - Taxpayers will fork out about $23 million for cleanup work at the old
steel plant this year.
The province's website says an extra $10 million will be spent this year to tear
down most of the remaining structures and clean up chemicals left on the
grounds of the 450-hectare site in the heart of Sydney.
The plant closed in 2001 after 100 years of steelmaking under private and public
The extra cash to be spent this year follows a profitable 2004 when assets from
the site produced a $4.5-million profit on a $13.2-million budget, mostly from
the sale of the electric arc furnace and slag and scrap steel. It's not
expected sales will produce a profit this year, a business plan states.
Site demolition began a year after the government shut down the plant after
failing to sell the operation to private interests.
The work is nearly 60 per cent complete, with more than 30 buildings torn down,
including the machine shop, boiler shop, No. 2 open hearth and stacks, blooming
mill pit building and stacks, No. 3 blast furnance and stoves, the rail
finishing mill, a calcite plant and the roll shop.
Workers, mostly former steelworkers, removed 50,000 kilograms of PCBs for
containment in the plant's brickhouse; 600,000 kilograms of asbestos-tainted
material; two 11-million-litre bunker fuel storage tanks; three kilometres of
underground fuel and coke-oven tar lines; and 1.4 million kilograms of other
potentially toxic chemicals.
Money for the massive cleanup was set aside by the Hamm government in 2001.
Since the work began, 117,000 tonnes of blast-furnace slag has been sold to
various interests for about $17 million. The slag is mostly used as aggregate,
such as filler on the site or elsewhere, like along the shoulders of municipal
and provincial roads.
"A large stockpile of slag on site will ensure continued operations, employment
and revenue into the foreseeable future," the website states.
Several projects will be tackled at the site this year, including reopening a
bridge to allow public access to the main administration building that contains
various offices including the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, Sydney Environmental
Resources Ltd. and Sysco.
The province also plans to hire consultants to do a water supply study, continue
testing for environmental contamination below ground, complete engineering
surveys, create a long-term database for future property management and draft
plans for a greening project for Whitney Pier.
"The overall goal . . . is to create a vibrant industrial site where new
industries and businesses will locate," the business report states. "The site
will be a good place in which to work or establish a business."
Some businesses have already located to the site, including Elks Fabricators and
Provincial Energy Ventures.
Work this year will include removal or cleansing of two more bunker C oil tanks,
removal or disposal of PCBs in the brickhouse, and removing another two
kilometres of oil lines.