By Tera Camus and Cameron MacKeen / Staff Reporters, May 21, 1999
Sydney - Frederick Street residents could be out of their homes for a lot longer than
Environment Minister Michel Samson said the 10 evacuated families could be out of
their nine homes for at least two to three months. Last week, he said two to three
"At this point in time we are looking at two to three months to carry out all the testing
that is required," Mr. Samson told reporters Friday at Province House.
But Mr. Samson also said it is possible the evacuation could last longer. "That's what
are saying (at least two to three months)," he said. "We just don't want to raise
unnecessary expectations for the residents."
Housing officials have been meeting with the residents one-on-one for the past week,
attempting to determine their long-term needs. Low-income housing or apartments are
All meals are now being provided, children are being sent to and from school by taxi,
and laundry services - even refrigerators - have been delivered to their rooms at the
Debbie Ouellette said she's not interested in moving into a low-income unit or back to
her contaminated. "When I leave here, I want a house to move into," she said.
Her basement, like several other homes, has arsenic seeping in. The same toxin was
also found in orange goo behind her home, about eight metres from her back door.
Tests revealed 49.9 milligrams of arsenic per kilogram of soil.
Other families were moved for compassionate reasons. Provincial Environment
officials will be out again next week surveying other homes in the area, handing out
information sheets, inspecting basements and answering questions.
Sometime next week, the provincial and federal governments will have a public
meeting with all concerned residents, hosted by the Joint Action Group.
Some will likely welcome that meeting, including the new Community Alliance
environmental group, which wants JAG to account for its actions on Sydney's toxic
environment in the past three years.
JAG, which includes provincial, federal and municipal governments and concerned
citizens, is mandated to clean up the toxic sites and address health concerns.
alliance members are former JAG members.
Rob Jessome of the alliance said the group has requested meetings with all levels of
government. "We want a commitment on funding. We want a commitment on work
starting, and we want to impress on them that if they they think everything is going well
because of the JAG process, that it's misdirected."
Regional Coun. Lorne Green also questioned JAG's role in the evacuation in Whitney
"It's almost like they've disappeared in this one. . . . It almost seems they've been
told, 'You guys stay away from this.' "
But JAG spokeswoman Germaine LeMoine said the group adopted a motion earlier
to get government to move people out by June 1.
The group has profiled Sydney's toxic waste problem, studied the rates of death and
plans a study on the cause. And a geophysical study was just completed on volatile
underground pipes at the coke ovens, she said.
McKenzie pleads for premier to make tough
By Steve MacInnis, May 21, 1999
After a six-day, eight-stop whirlwind tour of Canadian and
American toxic waste sites, Juanita McKenzie came home
to Cape Breton this week with a strong message for
Premier Russell MacLellan.
“Be the premier that really makes a difference. Don’t be a
backbencher but come out in front and show the leadership
abilities that this province needs right now,” said McKenzie,
who has led the charge for relocation for residents of
Whitney Pier’s contaminated Frederick Street.
“This is certainly not Russell’s legacy but yet as premier he
is the one now responsible for the mess left behind by
others. I want him to stand and make the decisions that are
needed to protect my family and others.”
McKenzie was among nine community and government
officials to tour toxic waste sites in Ontario and New York
including Love Canal – in the LaSalle district of Niagara
Falls, N.Y. The trip was arranged through the Joint Action
Group (JAG) – a community-based organization mandated
to develop a remediation plan for the Muggah Creek
Housing options to be examined
Pier residents could be out of homes for three months
By Steve MacInnis, May 21, 1999
Residents relocated after traces of arsenic were found in
the homes will spend the long weekend examining future
Ten families from a Whitney Pier neighbourhood are
staying at the Delta Sydney this week after the provincial
government moved them out after finding arsenic in their
The relocation targets Frederick Street and there is no
move at this point to expand the effort.
Resident Juanita McKenzie said government officials are
still insisting the levels do not pose a health hazard and
moved them only to relieve the considerable stress they
have been under.
“I’m not going back to that home. There is going to be no
more Frederick Street,” she said, of her former
The options presented allow for residents to receive
assistance in renting a home or be placed in homes owned
by the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs.
McKenzie commended government officials Friday for their
efforts to date to ensuring their concerns are being
addressed while away from their homes.
“They have been very accommodating so far,” she said.