Sysco officials deny demolition work about to be handed out

By Wes Stewart
Cape Breton Post
Thursday, Jan. 29, 2004

The demolition of buildings and equipment, associated with the tar ponds incinerator, won't happen soon, Sysco president John Traves said Wednesday.

He was responding to Liberal Sysco critic Manning MacDonald's call for the government to immediately review all contracts for the demolition and clean up of the steel plant site.

MacDonald said he learned the liquidator, Ernst & Young, is about to give an outside contractor work to clean up the site at a cost of more than $2 million.
"A week after promising local people would get first shot at new work, Ernst & Young is about to give more work in the form of an untendered contract," said MacDonald.

According to the Cape Breton South MLA, Murray Demolition, which was awarded a steel plant demolition contract in February 2001, is about to be given a contract to demolish the pump house at the north end of the plant, the number three boiler and the turbine house. "There are plenty of Cape Breton companies with deep Nova Scotia roots that can do the job. They should at the very least be given a chance, to compete."

Traves said Murray Demolition's contact is still in force and the incinerator site is part of the Sysco property, but also part and parcel of the incinerator.
"Until we are told otherwise it will be maintained by Sydney Environmental Resources Ltd.(a provincial government agency)."

Traves said he asked Murray Demolition to cost the demolition. "There has been no tender awarded and none requested, we wanted an estimate if it was no longer required"
He added the cost-estimate is part of the budgetary process for the department.
"Every department and agency and Crown corporation in government is doing their budgets for next year," he said.

The incinerator site is not a part of the original price contained in the Murray Demolition contract. "The site is being maintained, but we have to have a contingency (plan) in place," for the site when its future use has been determined.

The $50 million incinerator was built to burn tar ponds sludge as part of a plan to clean up the site. No decision has been made on what recommended method will be used.

MacDonald argues a review of all past and future contracts will clear the air so that former steelworkers are assured that they will get first crack at any new work.
"There is a veil of secrecy surrounding this cleanup that must be lifted. Then and only then can we be assured that former steelworkers are looked after. (Premier) John Hamm made that promise when he closed the plant under the false premise that new hospital beds would open. Nova Scotians demand that he keeps that promise."

Ernst & Young spokeman Mat Harris said no work is to be tendered today.
"We tender everything on that site and that will happen in the future."

But he clarified that untendered work in the past was work done by former steelworkers, who have gotten more than 300,000 hours of employment.
"We've been taken to task on that by other unions."

Harris also said nobody has asked Sysco to bring the incinerator down.