Cleanup, removal of Domtar tank resumes with various charges

By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Thurs., Aug. 5, 2004

Sydney - A cleanup project plagued with problems since it began more than a year ago is underway once again.

The cleanup and removal of the Domtar tank at Sydney’s coke ovens site restarted Wednesday after contractors made repairs to a faulty fan switch and replaced carbon filters used to cleanse the air within the tank’s containment structure.

As well, the project’s monitoring program was redesigned and ambient air monitoring on and off the site was improved. "It was upgraded to collect more data and earlier action levels," said Walter van Veen, spokesperson for MGI, the contractor overseeing the work being done by Clean Harbors Canada Inc. Among the improvements is odour testing. It will consist of two visits a day from workers with AMEC Ltd., the agency’s air monitoring contractor. "They will sniff the air," said van Veen. That human touch will be in addition to monitoring odour complaints reported by nearby residents. More sensitive air monitoring devices will also be used to give current air sample results and there will be a faster turnaround of air samples if a problem is detected at the site. "We’ll have the results in a few hours," said van Veen.

During the first seven days of operations, six monitors at the perimeter of the site will collect 24-hour samples for detailed analysis at Ottawa and Sydney laboratories. An additional four permanent air monitoring stations located throughout Sydney will continue to draw 24-hour samples for detailed lab analysis once every six days, a schedule that coincides with the National Air Pollution Surveillance network. The results of all air monitoring tests will be posted on the agency Web site – – within 24 hours of being received.

The provincial Sydney Tar Ponds Agency has also established guidelines for prompt notification of the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour, the district medical officer of health, Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Environment Canada, and the public in the event of air quality problems on the site.

The changes and shutdown of the work resulted from an unacceptable level of Naphthalene escaping into the air from the site during work in May.

The project was also stalled in 2003 after junk, such as shopping carts, plugged up screens used to filter the sludge. The commercial incinerator in Quebec burning the material can only take so much at a time. "There have been a number of issues along the way," said van Veen. Once about 1,000 tonnes of the goo is removed, the tank will be dismantled and taken from the site. Van Veen said the $3.8 million project remains within budget.