Sludge contained in storage tank on coke ovens site destroyed
By Wes Stewart
Cape Breton Post
Wed., Nov. 29, 2006
Sydney - Coal tar sludge from a storage tank on the former coke ovens site off
Victoria Road has been destroyed.
Clean Harbors Canada, the Corunna, Ont. company hired to remove the contents
from the tank, notified Sydney Tar Ponds Agency the material was destroyed at
two Clean Harbors incinerators in the United States.
"Getting rid of the contents was a long ordeal for the contractor," said agency
spokesperson Parker Donham.
"We allowed people to make such outrageous overstatements about Sydney's
environmental problems that we introduced an element of fear into cleanup
decisions that has very severely limited our options."
It's the final chapter in the disposal of the hardened mixture of coal tar, sand
and gravel from the bottom of the tank, earlier rejected by four hazardous waste
The sludge was stored awaiting disposal in 88 specially-designed rail containers
after it was removed from the tank.
The highly-visible, open-top tank was dismantled in mid-2005 and found to
contain about one million litres of rainwater, treated locally, 3,000 tonnes of
coal tar and a small amount of fabricated sand and oil mixture used in test
burns of an incinerator in the 1990s cleanup efforts.
About half the coal tar was destroyed at a Clean Harbors incinerator in Quebec,
the remaining 2,000 tonnes of hardened bottom-of-the-tank material was disposed
at incinerators in Aragonite, Utah and Kimball, Neb.
Clean Harbors has supplied the agency with certificates of destruction verifying
its safe disposal.
Donham said the coal tar was absolutely ordinary, it can be purchased as
The contractor disposed of far more dangerous substances than what was contained
in the Domtar tank, but "what they hadn't counted on was that it had the skull
and crossbones that comes from being associated with Sydney and the Sydney tar
The notoriety excluded them from any Canadian facility which would erect
obstacles exclusive to the tar ponds cleanup.
Donham doesn't think the public is in favour of the removal and destruction now
that they realize it will involve incineration in or near Sydney. The other
option is solidification and encapsulation.
"I'm fine either way because we have only looked at safe, reliable, proven
Donham thinks there will be a government decision "very soon" on the cleanup