Suzuki slams latest
David Suzuki criticized the latest tar ponds
cleanup plan in an address at the Membertou
Convention Centre in Sydney on Saturday.
plan for tar ponds
Environmentalist says politics behind latest scheme to clean up toxic mess
By JOCELYN BETHUNE
SYDNEY - The latest plan to bury and burn the contaminants in the Sydney tar
ponds is "the dumbest idea," environmentalist David Suzuki says.
The 61-year-old Vancouver educator, who spoke to a standing room only crowd at
the Membertou Convention Centre in Sydney on Saturday night, said the
recommendation is politically motivated.
"It seems that the politicians are trying to mortgage (the problem) for future
generations," he said Sunday in a telephone interview from a Sydney hotel.
"These politicians won't be around in 20 or 30 years and this (plan) is just
giving the appearance that they are doing something. It's just ludicrous."
The government intends to burn the 700,000 tonnes of toxic sludge in the
81-hectare tar ponds and then seal whatever is left in concrete.
The sludge contains numerous substances that are believed to be possible causes
of cancer, including heavy metals, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and PAHs
(polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).
Mr. Suzuki's recommended solution is a technology that breaks down the PCBs and
renders them harmless.
"It seems to me that these decisions are made for political expediency and don't
have anything to do with the profound ecological problem that exists here," he
Mr. Suzuki said he visited the site in the late 1970s and is "astounded that
nothing has been done."
The tar ponds and the nearby coke ovens site are the remains of 100 years of
steelmaking in Sydney.
The government website for the tar ponds cleanup project says the planned method
"takes the middle ground" and will remove, burn and bury the contaminants over
10 years at a cost of $256 million.
Mr. Suzuki's Saturday night speech didn't directly address the tar ponds
question. Instead, he spoke about the connectivity of all things on Earth and
how we can be more responsible.
The environmentalist is the author of 30 books and is host of the award-winning
television show The Nature of Things.
He arrived in wintry Cape Breton after a trip to Cuba, where he received word
just before he left that Cuban President Fidel Castro wished to meet with him.
Mr. Suzuki reluctantly declined as he was committed to speak in Sydney - which
was experiencing its third snowstorm in seven days.
"And I've been freezing my ass off since I got here," he said.