By Tanya Collier, Cape Breton Post, May 19, 1999
Residents in Whitney Pier want answers from the
Department of Environment – now.
About 75 community members raised a number of
questions and concerns during an impromptu meeting held
by local politicians Tuesday afternoon.
“Are we living in a Love Canal? How affected are the
people? Are we affected? Are our children affected? I want
some information,” said Kenneth Hayward, Tupper Street
Resident Phil Best asked why a representative from the
Environment Department wasn’t at the session to answer
“I’m concerned you (Cape Breton Regional Municipality
Coun. Lorne Green) can’t answer the questions I, and the
rest of the people here, are asking to have answered.”
Green noted the meeting was held on short notice and
representatives from the department could not change their
Resident Lillian Marsman said 69 families on Tupper Street,
Laurier Street, Frederick Street, Curry’s Lane, Railroad
Street and Hankard Street signed a survey asking the
Environment Department to test their water and soil for
contaminants. An additional 60 families were not home
during the survey but will also be contacted.
The action follows the temporary relocation of seven
families from Frederick Street after arsenic was found
seeping into their basements.
Government officials consider housing options for
By Steve MacInnis, Cape Breton Post, May 19, 1999
A team of provincial and federal
government representatives is continuing its work to
resettle residents of a Whitney Pier neighbourhood who
were moved out of their homes because of arsenic
Eight families are now staying at a Sydney hotel while
Health and Environment department officials determine how
best to clean up the toxic goo which has surfaced in some
Michelle Whalen, spokesperson for the Department of
Housing and Municipal Affairs, said Tuesday while the use
of provincially-owned housing stock is an option, it is not
the only one being considered.
She said residents have been offered a number of options,
including financial assistance with rent.
“We’ve asked them to start thinking about options,
especially those with children, since we are nearing the last
month of school,” Whalen said.
PUBLICATIONThe Halifax Chronicle-Herald
DATE Wednesday May 19, 1999
Evacuations compound fears
Other neighbours near Frederick St. scared, want out
Sydney - About 100 angry and scared residents living on a half-
dozen streets near toxic Frederick Street say they want out of the
neighbourhood until they know it's safe to live there.
"This is not a Frederick Street issue, it's a community issue,"
shouted Claudine MacDonald of Tupper Street to the applause of her
A hastily called meeting was organized by Coun. Lorne Green, a
resident of Tupper Street, who was flooded by calls since six
families from Frederick Street and another from nearby Laurier
Street were evacuated last week.
The provincial Environment Department took the measure after arsenic
was found in basements on those streets.
Two more families on Frederick Street were evacuated to the Delta
Sydney hotel on Tuesday.
"We as concerned parents and homeowners living next to Canada's
worst toxic dump have several concerns, first and foremost the
safety and well-being of our children and the right, as Canadians,
to live in a safe environment," Mr. Green said.
Environment Minister Michel Samson said Tuesday afternoon he hadn't
heard about the request by residents of other streets to be
relocated. "I'll have to wait to hear that from my staff to get
exactly what was said," he said.
"Now we said from Day 1 when we made this decision Thursday it was
based on compassion, specifically compassion for the residents of
Frederick Street borders the former coke ovens site that produced
unknown quantities of toxins before it closed in 1988. Currys Lane
and Tupper, Laurier and Hankard streets are a stone's throw from
each other, and parallel to Frederick Street.
Mr. Green said the government obviously knows there's a big problem
in the neighbourhood.
"The fact is that government has admitted it through their recent
relocation of residents," Mr. Green said. "But toxins know no
boundaries. They do not stop at fences, they do not skip homes, they
do not pick and choose streets."
In the past year, tests conducted by the federal and provincial
Environment departments determined there were higher-than-acceptable
limits of arsenic and other heavy metals and compounds on Frederick
Less than two weeks ago, tests on a recent trickle of orangish ooze
on the banks behind one Frederick Street home determined the
presence of 49.9 milligrams of arsenic per kilogram of soil. The
safe limit is 12.
Premier Russell MacLellan said families were moved last week so more
testing can be done.
"Mind you, there will be other decisions," he said Tuesday. "There
has to be because the tar ponds and coke ovens are a major problem
and we will be coming forward with new statements and new directions.
Those at the short meeting in the Hankard Street hall demanded a
public meeting with the Environment Department. They also want the
government to fund a health-risk study and test their water, soil
"It is preferable to have some objective outsider do the tests,"
Coltilda Yakimchuk said to applause and shouts of approval.
Terry MacPherson, a spokesman from the department, said in an
interview there are no plans for a public meeting. He also said
testing may not go to tender but instead could be handed to a firm
chosen by the department to save time.
"What we're making a commitment to do is to meet these homeowners
one-on-one," he said. "We're planning to move forward, . . . to go
door-to-door with an information package we put together. What
answers we don't have for them when we're there, we hope to be able
to go back and get the answers for them."
The department's study will attempt to determine where the toxins
are coming from, beginning with tests on Laurier and Tupper streets.
With Amy Smith, provincial reporter
DATE Tue 18 May 1999
SECTION/CATEGORY National general news
STORY LENGTH 490
N.S. prepared to do something for Frederick Street
By Kevin Carmichael
HALIFAX (CP) - Premier Russell MacLellan vowed Tuesday to take
care of those who live on the edge of the country's worst toxic
Last week, the Nova Scotia government placed four families who
live on Sydney's Frederick Street in hotels after officials
determined a yellow-orange ooze in their basements contained
traces of arsenic.
The premier says that's only a first step.
``There will be other decisions,'' MacLellan said on his way into
the provincial legislature for the start of the spring session.
``There has to be. The tar ponds and the coke ovens are a major
problem. We will be coming forward with new statements and new
directions.'' Frederick Street borders the heavily polluted
grounds of the former Sydney Steel coke ovens and is not far from
Sydney's notorious tar ponds, twin pools of reeking sludge created
by almost a century of steelmaking. The federal government has
called the pollution the worst in the country.
Residents of the street have complained about health problems for
years and have demanded the government move them permanently.
About 100 people jammed a community hall in Sydney on Tuesday to
demand an immediate health-risk study.
Lorne Greene, a Sydney councillor, said toxins know no boundaries
and he questioned how a home on Frederick Street can be deemed
unsafe while another home two doors down is safe.
New Democrat Helen MacDonald, who represents a neighbouring
riding, echoed Greene's concern at the legislature.
``What's to prevent (the toxins) from moving?'' she asked. ``If
there is evidence that people should be concerned for their health
and safety in their homes, then the government is going to have to
address that by again continuing to temporarily relocate these
Despite his promise to do something for the residents of Frederick
Street, MacLellan wouldn't commit to moving more people.
``So far we've moved four families temporarily because we have to
do more testing.''
Environment Minister Michel Samson said the government would deal
with the problem case by case. But he indicated money wasn't a
``At this point in time, the decision was made on compassionate
grounds and we'll worry about finances at a later date.''
Another controversial Cape Breton issue figure prominently in the
Economic Development Minister Manning MacDonald tabled Sydney
Steel's 1999 business plan.
The move caught the opposition off guard, especially Tory Leader
John Hamm, who has been calling on the government to release the
plan for weeks.
Hamm is the most vocal critic of the government's plan put up a
$44-million loan guarantee for the perennial money-loser.
The government says the money is just to get the provincial Crown
company back on track so it can be sold later next year.
Hamm declined comment on the document late Tuesday. A spokesman
for the Tory leader said they needed more time to go over it, and
that Hamm would comment today.