Residents want to be relocated


CAPE BRETON POST, July 8, 1998

Fearing their families health has been endangered, residents of Frederick Street served notice Tuesday to all levels of government that they want out.

"We want out and you have to relocate us," said resident Debbie ouelette, after receiving the latest round of testing results from the street, showing elevated levels of the poisons arsenic, lead and poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).

The residents learned of the news during a meeting at the Civic Centre in Sydney with a newly formed monitoring committee.

The committee, comprising representatives from all three levels of government, was formed after Ouelette and her neighbors noticed a yellow-colored goo oozing from a brook bank near their homes in May.

The testing was done by a consortium of three Cape Breton engineering companies known as Cape Breton Environmental Group.

Initial results showed arsenic levels 18.5 times higher than acceptable limits established by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME).

The exact source of all the contamination has not been identified.

A more complete analysis report is expected next week.

Frederick Street, located in Whitney Pier, borders the north side of the former coke ovens site which is part of the . The area is now fenced in with signs warning of a human health hazard.

The most toxic part of the watershed is the tar ponds, comprising 700,000 tonnes of highly toxic sludge left behind after nearly a century of steel making.

"I don't think anyone realizes just how anxious we are. You really don't know unless you live there," said resident Ron McDonald, who was among seven street residents to attend the meeting. "If it's not in your backyard then you don't know what it's like."

McDonald and Ouelette are concerned for the future health of their 10-year -old sons, who for years played with their toy trucks in a backyard mud pile that may have been contaminated.

Dr. Jeff Scott, the province's chief medical officer, told the residents he is now arranging to have them tested for contamination.

He said there has to be a determination whether there is an immediate threat to health or if the danger lies in long-term exposure.

"We don't want to be here. This stuff scares me," said resident Juanita McKenzie.

McDonald said the residents are considering hiring a lawyer or becoming more radical in their approach.

As for immediate steps, the residents demanded greater security measures in and around the brook area.

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Contact: Juanita McKenzie, official spokesperson for the Frederick Street Group

Contact: Muggah Creek or Sierra Club of Canada