Residents file another Sydney Steel lawsuit |
Health, property damage alleged
By Tera Camus / Cape Breton Bureau
Sydney - Another lawsuit has been filed against the province and the defunct
Sydney steel plant by dozens of Whitney Pier residents.
Some 80 people, most still living in the area, claim they continue to suffer the
effects of pollution from the plant, which closed in 2000, and the nearby coke
ovens, which shut down in 1988.
"The intended plaintiffs have been chronically exposed to various contaminants
and carcinogenic chemicals emitted by the intended defendants and deposited . .
. in the air, soil and water of Sydney," reads a statement of claim filed
Monday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.
A statement of claim contains unproven allegations that must be tested in court.
Two years ago, government tests of soil on a half-dozen Whitney Pier streets
determined hundreds of residents have a theoretical risk of developing cancer
or other illnesses from constant exposure to dust and vapour from contaminated
land or basements. The chemicals are similar to those found at the steel mill,
tar ponds and coke ovens, such as arsenic, lead and cancer-causing, fuel-based
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
The plaintiffs allege the chemicals and government's failure to minimize their
potential effects have hurt their physical and mental health and properties.
The suit specifies "loss of use and enjoyment of property . . . including
extensive business and personal losses," as well as inability to sell, finance
or mortgage contaminated properties.
"The intended defendants' negligent conduct has caused the plaintiffs to suffer
from chronic anxiety about their own and their respective families' personal
health, safety and well-being."
A study of air emissions in Sydney described "ore dust" that rained on the area
from the provincially owned steel operation. For example, in January 1970,
about 521 tonnes of dust fell on every square kilometre of Sydney.
The Attorney General of Nova Scotia is listed as a defendant in the action as
regulator of the environment.
A federal study in the mid-1980s warned the province not to reopen the coke
ovens without pollution controls, or risk seeing an escalated increase in
illness or death of Sydney residents.
Several government studies since then, including one last year, determined
Sydney has one of the highest incidences of cancer deaths in Canada.
The plaintiffs, represented by Wagner and Associates, plan to seek unspecified
general, special, punitive and aggravated damages for personal injuries or
mental distress, as well as costs and other relief.
The law firm has filed two other similar suits against the province this year
involving more than 100 plaintiffs.