Friday, April 22, 2005 Link To Herald The Halifax Herald Limited

C.B. board wants in-house study


SYDNEY - The Cape Breton district health authority announced Tuesday that it prefers a comprehensive study of the plan to clean up Sydney's tar ponds and coke ovens sites.

An article in Thursday's edition incorrectly said the authority was in favour of a full-panel review of the cleanup plan.

In fact, the authority's board and medical staff both agreed that the federal Department of Public Works and Government Services should recommend continuing with a comprehensive study to the environment minister when the current community consultation is complete.

The authority says there are several things the assessment must do, like make sure there's lots of community consultation and continued public participation, that the panel have the ability to assess cleanup alternatives, and that an ombudsman be appointed so community concerns are addressed in a way people will understand.

The authority also wants to make sure the health impacts of any discussed cleanup alternative are fully disclosed so the community will know how appropriate each option is.

The authority's board is putting together a group to look at the environmental risks associated with the cleanup plan.

Public Works and Government Services is collecting the opinions of Cape Bretoners on their preferred method of environmental assessment of the tar ponds and coke ovens project.

In May the department is expected to notify the Environment Department of its recommendation - either to continue with an in-house comprehensive study or to switch to a full-panel review led by an independent expert.

The debate in Cape Breton over the two methods has been raging since late last year, with the Sierra Club of Canada leading the pack of those seeking a full-panel review.

Cape Breton regional council prefers a comprehensive study.