Environment ministers to visit residents of Frederick Street

Cape Breton Post

HALIFAX -- Residents of Frederick Street in Whitney Pier are getting some high level visitors.
during question period Wednesday, Environment Minister Don Downe promised to visit the residents whose properties abut arsenic-laden soil. And he said he would have federal Environment Minister Christine Stewart in tow.
"Once we are over the House activities I would be happy to go up there," Downe said. "In fact, Mr. Speaker, I've invited the federal Minister of Environment as soon as she possibly can get down and take a look at the tar ponds, coke ovens site and the other areas in that riding."
Downe made the commitment in response to questions from Helen MacDonald, NDP MLA for Cape Breton The Lakes. MacDonald complained the provincial environment minister was not doing enough to address the health and safety concerns of Frederick Street residents.
"Those people were expecting some sort of a response. They're expecting something to happen. Some of them are looking to be temporarily relocated," she said.
Down said his department is developing plans if testing uncovers a serious health issue if it becomes necessary and the health of the residents is the department's primary concern.
"Until we can prove there is a problem, there's not much point in moving everybody else or taking over the properties," he said. "I am being told, unless there is a change today that there is not a health hazard at this point to the people in the areas where there is a problem."
Downe explained the residents have been warned to keep away from the railway embankment that is contaminated by the yellow ooze and areas of concern have been fenced off.
Tests indicate the soil is contaminated with arsenic levels 18.5 times higher than national guidelines. MacDonald told MLAs new tests show unacceptably high levels of lead, boron and sulfur.
"They are sick," MacDonald said of the people of Frederick Street. "They have sore throats, they have headaches. They are not healthy. It is not a healthy area."
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Contact Juanita McKenzie, official spokesperson for Frederick Street Group
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