Extreme, costly measures to clean up tar ponds not necessary
Cape Breton Post
letter by Vic Dawson
Wed. Feb. 4, 2009
Cleaning up the tar ponds is not a job; it is a vocation! There will be
good paycheques as long as participants can think up any reason to extend
the project by frightening the community.
Tar was cheap and plentiful
while Dominion Tar and Chemical operated. Baking coal into coke at the
ovens produced a steady stream of gas from the top, used for heating, and
tar running from the bottom of the ovens. The tar was piped into the
DOMTAR tanks on Victoria Road. It was put in the paving of all our
municipal streets and sprayed in lighter form on the dirt roads to keep
down dust. There is probably more tar in some of our roads than in any
section of the tar ponds. Tar coated our roofs and sealed our basements.
As kids we chewed tar icicles that hung off Dan Gillis' horse barn - a
terrible, stick-to-your-teeth thing done as a dare and not for pleasure.
This gang is still alive and pushing 80. Tar coated many fence and wood
objects for preservation. Every home burned tar-laced coal.
We know now that tar has chemicals to be avoided. This is similar to the hundreds of
other harmful elements in our environment that we know not to ingest.
I feel that the extreme, costly measures planned for cleaning up of the tar
ponds are not necessary. Ratepayers cannot afford the expenditure of $400
million to fix up our municipal infrastructure. Much of the hundreds of
millions requested for the tar ponds could better be spent for urgently
needed municipal repair. This can be combined with grants from the
billions soon available from the federal government and the province to
fight the depression (and the next election).
We must have detailed plans
for our municipal infrastructure projects prepared and ready to submit for
funding. This is a once-in-a-depression opportunity to remedy the worst
consequences from the ending of industrial and mining employment and the
ensuing population decline.