Sat., March 18, 2006 Link To Herald The Halifax Herald Limited

Tar ponds cleanup panel seeks additional information


SYDNEY: The panel overseeing the cleanup of the Sydney tar ponds says it needs more environmental impact information from the agency charged with doing the work.

The three-member independent body that is doing an environmental assessment of the project said in a release Friday it has asked the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency to address deficiencies in a 3,000-page environmental impact statement completed by the agency and delivered to the panel in January.

The information is critical for focused discussions during public hearings, said panel chairwoman Lesley Griffiths. "The panel takes this mandate very seriously and is not prepared to move forward to public hearing until it is satisfied that the necessary information has been provided," she said.

The tar ponds agency said Friday it will "provide prompt answers to the additional questions posed." "We have confidence in the cleanup plan and in our experts' ability to carry it out," said Frank Potter, acting CEO of the agency. "We are as anxious as everyone in Sydney to get on with the cleanup and meet the June 30 date for the completion of the panel's report."

Earlier this month, the tar ponds agency answered hundreds of questions in 55 submissions from the public and 34 from the review panel, meeting a March 2 deadline.

Public hearings must be held before the panel's final report is due June 30.