Tar ponds activist wants residents moved |
By TERA CAMUS / Cape Breton Bureau
SYDNEY - Don Deleskie won't throw away his rubber boots yet.
The grassroots environmentalist, who jumped into the toxic Sydney tar ponds
several years ago to protest the snail's pace of the cleanup, stood by the
smelly site Wednesday worrying that his battle isn't over.
"We have to move those people out of this place," he said, pointing to the homes
located a stone's throw away.
"I'm totally disgusted. . . . Government said they're going to do the job right.
And if they're going to do it right, move the people out of harm's way, then
move in there with your Tonka toys and move all the materials you want, for
however long you want."
Government studies have shown that disturbing 700,000 tonnes of toxic chemicals
in the tar ponds or underground at the coke ovens site could be more dangerous
than leaving it due to the volume of volatile gases that could escape into the
air if no controls are put in place.
Neila MacQueen, a nearby homeowner and cancer sufferer, said she doesn't hold
much hope that controls and protecting health will be a top priority given the
history of previous cleanup activities.
"I'd like for them to get a technology that will work and keep people safe," she
said. "I'd like it to be gone so we can get on with our lives."
Others in the community shared the same thoughts.
"It's a great day for Sydney and the area," Liberal House leader Manning
MacDonald said. "It's going to create a lot of work and leave the site
esthetically better. . . . There's a will to do this the right way . . . my
dream is to eventually see that site restored."
Conceptual drawings of the cleanup by government show the tar ponds and nearby
coke ovens with lots of trees, grass, walking trails and an 18-hole golf
Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking said the politicians' work is not over and
neither is the community's.
"This is just the crossroads," he said. "We're going to do it right but we need
to keep the feet to the fire."
Sierra Club national president Elizabeth May is also pleased that Ottawa will
follow its stringent environmental screening process to review the project's
design and mandate once they're filed this fall by the province.
"We are particularly pleased that the federal government has listened to the
over 3,000 local residents who asked for an environmental assessment and panel
review of any proposed technology," she said.
"A well-focused assessment will help avoid the sort of wrong choices that have
plagued cleanup in the past."