Letter by an environmental
activist in support of relocating Frederick Street residents, dated
July 24, 1998
To Prime Minister,
Federal Minister of Environment
cc: Michelle Dockerill
Federal Minister of Health
Premier Russell MacLellan
Provincial Minister of Environment
Provincial Minister of Health
Elizabeth May, Sierra Club of Canada
Dr. Jeff Scott
Juanita McKenzie, Frederick Street
As those of
you involved with the JAG process know, I retired for an indefinite time
from environmental activities back in May. During the past couple
of months, I may not have been active in issues, however, I have been keeping
up to date through the media, and people involved in the issues.
Now my conscience feels it is being forced back to activism because of
the lack of action for the Frederick Street people. All these deadly
chemicals found in the immediate area -- how much more proof does one need?
I have several
questions to ask. What is it going to take for a decision to be made
to relocate the residents of Frederick Street who want to be relocated?
Do we need the tragedies of Love Canal (ref: Love Canal, My Story
by Lois Marie Gibbs) to repeat themselves in Cape Breton before people
from Toronto Star article 7/19/98)
"Nova Scotia medical
officer of health Jeff Scott suggested at one public meeting that the federal
guidelines were too strict and said the tests revealed no immediate health
hazard to residents. Those tests showed that a brook and backyard
soil from Frederick St. contain arsenic, molybdenum, benzopyrene, antimony,
naphthalene, lead and copper, all at concentrations many times above federal
guidelines. Those chemicals are known to cause various cancers, birth
defects, heart disease, kidney disease, brain damage, immune deficiencies
and skin rashes." … " 'You're never going to find a smoking gun,'
says Don Ferguson, a scientist with Health Canada who is involved in studies
of the area. He, too, does not believe people on Frederick St. are
in immediate danger. While he admits the coal processing site adjacent
to Frederick St. is a hazard for those who actually walk across it, he
says the toxic fumes can't travel as far as people's homes."
Frederick Street are not well. People in Sydney are not well.
We have the highest cancer rates, heart disease and MS rates here.
People centuries ago relied on their instincts, not scientists, for
survival. If there was something in their surroundings that could
hurt them, they either ran from it or got rid of it. People who rely
on instincts now days are called "crazy" or figuratively patted on the
heads and told "we know better than you what is the right thing to do for
you." Instinct is telling the people of Frederick Street that they
are living in an area dangerous to their health. People in positions
to make decisions are telling them they have to have "scientific" evidence
before they can be moved.
Are the contaminants
in Sydney so intelligent that they know they must stay within the confines
of those fences, and within the waters of the tar ponds?
doctors/scientists who told women it was okay to take DES while pregnant.
They were doctors who prescribed antibiotics for years to find out
now that overuse causes immunity to them. They were scientists who
invented pesticides and said they were okay to spray on lawns. They
were scientists who invented chlorofluorocarbons which have destroyed the
ozone layer. Scientists and government scoffed at Rachel Carson when
she wrote Silent Spring talking about how volatile chemicals become when
they mix in our under groundwater. Engineers said the
Titanic was unsinkable -- guess what? It sunk! Doctors,
Scientists and Engineers are not infallible -- more often than they would
care to admit, they are wrong.
I don't know
about any of you, but I was brought up in a home where I was taught the
Golden Rule "treat others as you would have them treat you." That
is something that came out of religious teachings. I hear so many
people brag about being "good God-fearing, some even church-going, people,"
however, they sit by and allow fellow humans to suffer in poison and stench
and do nothing to help.
and spiritual beliefs have pushed me to write this letter and I do hope
that the people in positions of leadership and power in our country and
province make humane decisions for the people of Sydney who are crying
for help. Has our society gotten so callous that they can sit and
watch people suffer with no conscience to do something?
of you live on Frederick Street? Would you bring your children up
on Frederick Street? If you wouldn't, WHY wouldn't you? If
there are no health hazards there, why wouldn't you live there? Maybe
Dr. Scott and other health and environment officials should move to Frederick
Street while all this testing is being done, and during the cleanup efforts
to prove to the people that it is safe to live there … Good idea?
I feel frustrated
at what is NOT happening for Frederick Street, I cannot even begin to imagine
how those poor people living there must be feeling -- If I were Larissa's
mother (refer to same article mentioned above) I would be terrified too.
we got the smoke a few years ago all the way from Quebec when they had
their forest fires. We were told in Cape Breton, at that time, to
stay indoors if we were afflicted with respiratory problems … how can the
fumes and dust so close not have an effect on peoples' health, when smoke
coming from hundreds of miles away can have an effect?
Federal Environment Minister, Christine Stewart's response to this letter
to Frederick Street in Cape Breton