February 27, 1999, Cape Breton Post
Put public health ahead of wallets

To the editor:

In regard to the stance that Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade president Avvie Druker and his board have taken on the JAG website, once again our business leaders see fit to neglect the health and welfare of all Cape Bretoners and continue to reach for their wallets.

The website video, The Legacy, depicts what 100 years of neglect have left for our children to live with.

We finally have a commitment from government to clean up this cocktail of poison; let's get on with the job.

It is just lately that our board of trade has expressed interest in the JAG process.

If it has nothing positive to add, it should not hinder the process.

The board's representative did not see fit to vote yes on one of the most important motions brought forward to the roundtable to date.

JAG is comprised of many hard-working, concerned citizens as well as government representatives.

These people log thousands of hours of their own time to create a safe environment for future generations.

This wonderful island that is being promoted as Nova Scotia's Masterpiece is just that in some areas.

There is nothing beautiful about 700,000 tonnes of toxic material in the centre of Cape Breton's largest urban area.

The faster business people and residents in denial face reality and clean up the mess, the faster we will be able to live up to our title.

Health comes before all else. Without fresh air to breathe, we will cease to exist. So let no person or group try to come between JAG and its mandate. The future is for our children.

Ronnie McDonald
Frederick Street
JAG volunteer, Co-chair of Frederick St. Committee

[Letters to the Editor]


Fred Jackson, Managing Editor

February 27, 1999

Sydney's environmental blight getting wide play

He was so impressed that the news reached the Denver News that Jack Long decided to present me with the article. Scenic Northern Cape of Nova Scotia in Toxic Trouble. Long received the newspaper clipping from his son Cameron, a wildlife conservation officer with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. A friend of Cameron, who works with the Colorado state division of wildlife, sent him the clippings because there are similarities with the South Platte River in the city of Denver.

However, it is noted that Denver is making efforts to clean up the site. The story, written by David Crary, The Associated Press, has a Sydney, N.S., placeline and appeared in the newspaper Jan.25.

The article is well crafted and the coverage included a colour photo of garbage littering the banks of a stream adjacent to the Sydney Steel property as well as a locator map of Atlantic Canada, highlighting Cape Breton and Sydney.

It's only natural that Long, like many of our readers, is fascinated that such an item would appear in an American newspaper.

The Denver coverage is timely in light of developments this week. Avvie Druker; president of The Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade, told the Cape Breton Post that a video graphically depicting Sydney's toxic waste dump should not be posted on the Joint action Group's website for everybody to see.

The board asked to have the video, The Legacy, pulled from the website before Friday's launch because it believes the video is counter-productive to the board's economic development efforts.

Although I fully undderstand where Druker is coming from, especially from a business point of view, there are a couple of points that should be made. And our community and business leaders should go one step further.

We can't hide this problem. The media and JAG have jobs to do, and I also understand the point JAG is trying to make. JAG considers the video to be factual, realistic, and responsible. It's educational.

JAG chairman Carl (Bucky) Buchanan says only three minutes of the 17-minute video that cost about $20,000 is featured on the website. Buchanan, just like any resident of Cape Breton, shares the board of trade's concern for the economy.

The first three paragraphs in the Denver News story put the issue in perspective:

In the industrial belt of beautiful Cape Breton, economic collapse is so severe that civic leaders look for hope almost anywhere -- even in the morass of toxic waste befouling the heart of their main city.

That Canada's worst contaminated problem is viewed as a job creation opportunity highlights the gravity of the island's woes.

Renowned abroad for its rugged coastal scenery and vibrant Celtic culture, Cape Breton's role in Canada is now that of "Appalacia and Love Canal rolled into one."

"We're Nova Scotia's masterpiece, yet in the middle of Sydney in this cocktail of waste that no place else has," said Carl Buchanan, chairman of a committee studying cleanup options, "It's the good, bad and the ugly."

Our community and business leaders should go one step further. Let's turn Canada's worst contamination proble, in an area that has one of Canada's highest unemployment rates during a time that traditional industries such as coal, steel and fishing are fighting for survival, into a major success story.

We have an opportunity of turning a negative into a positive.

At the moment, we have government and business leaders trying to find solutions for Cape Breton's economic problem. There are possible solutions right in our own backyard.

Expanding and creating a new department at the University College of Cape Breton to work with its technology and environment experts would be an ideal route.

Can you imagine UCCB solving the tar ponds dilemma and becoming a world leader in that technology? It can happen, and UCCB could attract students worldwide.

Eliminating the toxic waste and developing the tar ponds area into a major development would mean short- and long-term jobs. Even a golf course on the site is not far-fetched.

This could be like Cape Breton winning the World Series. And I'm sure this Cape Breton success story would again make it into the Denver News and other newspapers around the world.

What a selling tool for this beautiful island, and the start of a new legacy. Our community and business leaders don't have to look any further; the project is right under our noses.
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