March 9, 1999, Cape Breton Post

Opposition to JAG tar ponds video discouraging

by Shirley Christmas

To the editor:

I am furious and discouraged with the remarks made by a well-known businessman and president of the Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade (Board of Trade Opposes Website Video on Toxic Waste, Feb. 26).

I find the statement cold and heartless towards the people of Sydney. Shame on Avvie Druker for placing money before humanity.

The statement ďWhat is the point in telling everybody in the world that this is a toxic waste site?Ē disturbs me very much. This alone is enough to tell me, and perhaps the rest of the people in Sydney, that its OK to bury our heads and ignore the serious pollution problem sitting on our doorsteps; itís OK to lie about the No. 1 toxic waste site in Canada being part of our community; itís OK that the lives of people in Sydney are at risk; but itís not OK for the economy to suffer.

The economy is already suffering and it isnít going to get any better unless we put our heads together and work to clean up the tar ponds. Give JAG some slack; I for one stand behind the decision to put a three-minute video, The Legacy, on the website. Itís about time the world got to see just what we have been living with. Perhaps this will embarrass government into fulfilling its commitment to cleaning up this mess, and the sooner the better.

If Mr. Druker still thinks heís right, tell the people who lost loved ones to cancer because of these toxic chemicals; tell the ones who are struggling to breathe because of the air pollution from the plant and coke ovens; tell the children who cannot play in their own backyards or playgrounds because the toxic waste is just a few feet away.

The picture Mr. Druker creates shows not only that business people in Sydney admit that money comes before humanity, but also their selfishness and ignorance towards the health and welfare of the people from whom their businesses were created. This is the thanks we get. Heaven help us all.

Shirley Christmas,

Construction near tar ponds raises questions

by Lloyd MacDonald

To the editor:

Incredibly, work has not stopped on the Sobeys expansion at the Sydney Shopping Centre. PAHs and hydrocarbons exceed guidelines, and benzo A pyrene is six times greater than acceptable. The plan to keep these substances from entering the building and food products has apparently not been determined.

How a building permit was issued in the first place must be answered by those responsible. How can an apartment building on Intercolonial Street be forbidden to be lived in because of its proximity to the tar ponds, and yet Sobeys is allowed to build practically on top of the sludge and poisons?

Will the carcinogens under the ground permeate into the store, onto the meats and produce? This is a question that should be asked and answered. Why is work allowed to continue? Were tests on this property done before construction began and before the building permit was issued?

Someone at city hall owes an explanation to citizens.

And imagine: the Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade is angry about the tar ponds Internet website. Did I hear the board get angry when this construction started? Did it ask questions regarding the health and safety aspects of a food store in this location, just feet away from the tar ponds?

Sobeys executives are hundreds of miles away, in Stellarton, safe from the tar ponds. Are they worried about those of us who remain here? I think not.

Lloyd MacDonald,
Park Street, Sydney

Pollution silence proved deadly

by Donald DeLeski

To the editor:

Once again I deem it necessary to express my outrage regarding the high number of people dying from cancer and other illnesses due to the emissions that came from the former coke ovens stacks. Make no mistake, the federal and provincial governments knew steelworkers and the residents of Sydney would die because of these emissions.

Many who never worked on the coke ovens died because of the cancer-causing agents coming from the stacks. For many others, quality of life was destroyed. The government is not concerned that former coke ovens workers will bring legal action for the government will hide behind the Workersí Compensation Act. I would say the government is concerned that residents who never worked on the steel plant or the coke ovens could take legal action.

Who gave governments the right to turn the people of Sydney into guinea pigs? We will have researchers here talking about genetics and smoking. Those who worked on the coke ovens were sucking down the equivalent of 35 packages of cigarettes a shift. The high pollution was falling in residential districts 24 hours a day.

As I stated in 1993, we must remember those who died because of government omission on the coke ovens, for if we forget those who died it would be the same as agreeing with what the government did. I always thought it was against the law to poison people. Was I wrong? I thank Donnie MacPherson for shining the light on the high cancer rates in Sydney. You will notice I have mentioned only Sydney, and I have done this because the government documents I have in my possession mention only Sydney.

If the federal and Nova Scotia governments had been at war with the residents of Sydney, it would seem their mandate would have been to take no prisoners. But then again, we would have had a chance to defend ourselves. Silence is not always golden. In this case it was, and still will be for years to come, deadly!

Donald DeLeskie,
Residents have a right to lash out
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