Residents: Incinerated sludge not wanted|
Federal, provincial governments propose putting tar ponds burner in Grand
Lake Road neighbourhood
By GREG MacVICAR
SYDNEY - The overwhelming message delivered at a meeting of about 40
concerned Grand Lake Road and area residents Thursday night is that they
don't want an incinerator burning toxic tar ponds sludge in their
"I'm making it clear that I'm not supporting incineration," said area
Coun. Vince Hall, who along with Grand Lake Road resident Ron Marman,
hosted the meeting at the Nova Scotia Community College Marconi Campus.
Mr. Marman said that he lives about two kilometres from the proposed
Victoria Junction incinerator site.
"The site itself is not suitable," he said, adding that it's close to Cape
Breton University, a golf course, a dairy farm, several water bodies,
homes and businesses.
The federal and provincial governments have proposed a 10-year,
$400-million plan to clean up the Sydney tar ponds, the toxic result of a
century of steelmaking in industrial Cape Breton.
On Jan. 3 the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency and officials with three
environmental firms briefed media on a newly released 3,000-page
environmental impact statement, which proposes stabilizing 580,000 tonnes
of sludge on site using hardening agents such as cement powder.
And it proposes shipping 120,000 tonnes of sludge contaminated with
polychlorinated biphenyls and polyaromatic hydrocarbons to Victoria
Junction for incineration.
Shawn Duncan, the impact statement co-ordinator, said a "thermal
destruction incinerator" would run for three years, burning 99.9999 per
cent of the PCBs and PAHs in the sludge and would automatically shut down
if that level wasn't being met.
But residents at the meeting Thursday were skeptical of how well the
proposed incinerator would work.
"I haven't seen one or read about one that hasn't had problems," said
Grand Lake Road resident Henry Lelandais, who worked as a metallurgist and
chemist at the steel plant in Sydney for 35 years, starting in 1956. "It's
not worth taking a chance."
The environmental effects of an incinerator, as listed in the impact
statement, include increased vehicle traffic and rail use, decreased
property values, noise, "short-term deposition of contaminants on
surrounding area and communities," "emissions from material piles," and
"slight increase in risk to human health."
Mr. Hall, who chairs the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's tar ponds and
coke ovens committee, said he's going to push the municipality to take a
position against the incinerator.
"There's quite a few councillors, and the mayor, that have concerns about
incineration," said Mr. Hall. "And I'm confident that the municipal
council trusts my input on the file."
Residents at the meeting decided to submit a report voicing their views to
a joint review panel now accepting comments on the impact statement.
Mr. Marman said that while residents don't want the sludge incinerated,
they also don't want the cleanup process slowed down.
"If we don't watch out, we're going to be studied to death," he said,
pointing to alternatives outlined in the statement, such as stabilization
of all the sludge. "Let's get on with this."
Mr. Hall said he was confident the group would get a good hearing from the
joint review panel and the Tar Ponds Agency.
"If I thought you were going to be run over roughshod, I'd tell you right
now," he said. "I don't think anybody has to go out laying on the road."
'I'm making it clear that I'm not supporting incineration.'