Sierra Club, Tar Ponds agency still at odds over cleanup
By Tanya Collier MacDonald
Cape Breton Post
Fri., Sept. 10, 2004
A provincial government agency
and a national environmental advocacy
group continue to quarrel over the planned
cleanup of the tar ponds and
coke ovens sites.
The Sierra Club of Canada
said the cleanup methods proposed by
the provincial government amount to nothing more
than the same plan this community rejected in 1996.
"It's a coverup, not a
cleanup," said Bruno Marcocchio,
Atlantic Canada regional
campaign director for the club.
Although the provincial government
is still in the process of
completing a detailed description
of the work, it's expected
that PCB-laden sludge in the tar
ponds will be destroyed in a
mobile incinerator. Then the
ponds will be capped. The coke
ovens sites will be remediated
using similar methods.
"The rest of the world has
moved past burn-and-bury,"
said Marcocchio. "The use of
closed loop systems to destroy
toxic substances is viable. Canadian
companies have been in
the lead developing these solutions
that could actually destroy
all of the toxic materials without emissions."
His words were echoed by
the club's national spokesperson, Elizabeth May
"It does nothing to remediate
the contamination in backyards," she said. "It increases
the risk of exposure to toxic
substances in the adjacent
neighbourhoods. And, what
may be most distressing, is that
it ignores the advanced techologies that could make the
Sydney cleanup a model for the
Parker Donham, spokesperson for the provincial Sydney
Tar Ponds Agency, said the
club's comments are wrong.
"The Sierra Club is fighting
yesterday's battles with yesterday's myths, " he said. "It's the
same old tired rhetoric Elizabeth and Bruno have used to
trash Sydney for the last 20
years. It's not just stale. It's
Donham said the experimental technologies touted by
Sierra Club are not what this community wants.
"They want proved, safe
methods and that's exactly what
we've offered them," said Donham.
"Elizabeth and Bruno are
out of touch with public opinion in Sydney"
The Sierra Club continues to
state that the only reason the
PCB sludge will be incinerated
instead of covered is because,
under federal law, it's illegal to
"The result of the so-called
cleanup will be that more than
90 per cent of the toxic waste
will remain in the community"
said May. "The burning of
PCBs, meanwhile, increases the
risk of airborne contamination
with products of incomplete
combustion, such as dioxins
The provincial and federal
governments signed a memorandum of agreement in May
that outlined support for the
cleanup. Ottawa committed no
more than $280 million and the
provincial government agreed
to no more than $120 million
over the next 10 years.