Source of the problem
Frederick Street resident Juanita McKenzie, right, stands at what she and other residents of the street believe is the source of the polution that has been discovered in a small brook running adjacent to the homeowners' property. The spot where she is standing is at the western end of what once was the Sydney Landfill Site. Left, Wilf Kaiser of the Nova Scotia Department of Environment stands in the brook gathering information on the soil and its contents. A monitoring committee is working on a plan to determine the source of toxic chemicals in the Whitney Pier neighborhood.
Pollution site to get inspection
Monitoring committee making visual inspection today

Cape Breton Post

A sampling plan to determine the source of toxic chemicals in a Whitney Pier neighborhood will be drafted today following a visual inspectio of the site by an appointed monitoring committee.
Wayne Pierce, committed chairperson and Environment Canada biologist, said about a dozen committed members will meet today at the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment offices in Sydney.
A sampling plan will be drafted, then presented to residents on the street for further input. Monday, the committee will be meeting again to make final adjustments and to create a solid plan.
Data derived from a Cape Breton Development Corporation (CBDC) sampling taken from the railbed during the first week in June will also be revealed to Frederick Street residents today. Previous samples taken from the railbed by the Department of Environment showed elevated amounts of the metals arsenic, boron, molybdenum and sulfur.
The CBDC results were delivered to Environment Canada during a committed meeting Tuesday. The data then had to be transferred into a format that couldn't be misconstrued by the general public.
Pierce said the main purpose of the visit to Frederick Street Wednesday was to give those participating in the efforts the benefit of seeing first hand what they will be monitoring.
Initial reports suggested arsenic levels in the area were 18.5 times higher than recommended national standards.
"When we discuss where we will sample and how many samples and how many sample points will be needed, it will give everybody a much better feel for the area," he said.
While the members were walking along the railway edging the backyards of residents, they were noting the characteristic of the stream running alongside the rail bed, vegetation surrounding the site and the geological makeup of the area.
Pierce said they were also looking for more seeps coming out of the rail bed. In May, a seep was located along a rail bed near resident Debbie Ouelette's backyard.
"We see some areas that are sort of suspicious. These are areas we're going to be interested in sampling," said Pierce.
How many seeps or what was seeping out of the ground wasn't revealed by the members. Pierce said the various government departments need time to compare notes before revealing the number of additional seeps found. Samples also need to be taken before it's determined what the substance is.
Pierce said the visual inspection was preliminary but it was determined the railbed was filled in.
"There's a lot of different fills from the rail line itself from construction over the years."
"But, Pierce said, there was nothing that appeared to be of immediate concern.
"The stream doesn't get any worse, eventually it gets better."
The sampling plan will include soil and water samples. Air monitoring is already taking place through six air monitoring stations placed along the railbed. Results from the stations will be available within two weeks.
Meanwhile, the provincial and federal Departments of Health are compiling a package of information on health concerns for the contaminants identified in the area. There will also be a snow fence put in place to mark the area as an area of concern and keep children anad animals away from the site.

Inspection continues today at Pier-area neighborhood

Cape Breton Post

Members of a newly-formed monitoring committee will be making a visual inspection today of a Whitney Pier neighborhood reported to have toxic metal in soil surrounding their homes.
The inspection will begin at 1:30 pm on Frederick Street - the area where soil tests taken from a brook determined the amount of arsenic was 18.5 times higher than recommended national standards.
Those participating will include representatives of the Department of the Environment, Department of Health, Department of Transportation and Public Works, Health Canada, Environment Canada, Joint Action Group (JAG), and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
During the group's first meeting Tuesday, members discussed a variety of issues and concerns derived from the report that ejected fear intot he thoughts of Frederick Street residents who also participated in the meeting.
Soil taken from nearby rail line - operated by the Cape Breton Development Corporation (CBDC) - also showed elevated amounts of the metals arsenic, boron, molybdenum and sulfur.
Subsequent reports by CBDC, didn't alleviate residents' concerns. Bruce Clyburn, a representative of CBDC, said the company became aware of the initial report Friday, May 28. The following Monday company members visited the site and determined there were two defined seeps in two boxed culvert structures near the company's railway. Tuesday, June 2, the company completed a more thorough investigation. Soil and water samples were taken from the area and the results of the water samples suggested levels weren't as high as first determined, said Clyburn.
"There is a tremendous difference in concentration. The difference may suggest an error in sampling or analytical errors."
The results of both the soil and the water testing will be made available to the public today or Thursday. Committee members advised it would be best to convert the data into a format that can't be misconstrued byanyone before releasing actual numbers.
Committee members also decided it would be best to absorb the information gathered by CBDC before designing a strategic plan to eradicate the fears of residents in the area.
But, some immediate plans included putting a snow fence along the brook that runs throught he backyards of the homeowners to prevent children and pets from playing in the contaminated area. Another included clearing a trash screen during each rain so the brook won't overflow into the residents' yards. Further samples and tests during different weather conditions was also suggested.
Some questions arose when representatives attempted to determine which level of government was responsible for which area.
The bantering caused the residents to boil with frustration.
Resident Juanita McKenzie said, "I know it's a priority to figure out what's going on but it has to be a faxt solution, if not, get us off this street. When you finish yoru samples and tests each day you leave, we're still here. We're here 24 hours a day. The bottom line for us is our health. No matter how high on the corporate ladder you have to go, you have to help us. We're sick."

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