Paul MacEwan Should Keep His Mouth Shut

May 5, 1999

Letter sent to editors of various newspapers

For almost a year now, the Russell MacLellan government has continued to refuse to relocate the residents of Frederick Street, this despite a series of toxic events beginning last summer. Apparently, the best the MacLellan government can do for the residents is to tell them to stay inside, keep the windows closed, and don’t let the kids play in the backyard. What kind of position is this? What kind of life does Russell MacLellan expect these people to live?

This is truly an incredulous position to take considering toxic chemicals are continuing to literally ooze out of the ground. Moreover, independent scientist, Dr. Rosalie Bertell from the International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH), has publicly stated that no one should live within 5 km of the Frederick Street area. I would like to point out that Dr. Bertell is recognized worldwide as an authority in the field of environmental health. She is a peer to many distinguished and prestigious international scientific organizations, as well as a US Congressional witness on the Gulf War Syndrome.

Dr. Bertell is also the chairperson of the permanent People’s Tribunal enquiry into the Bhopal disaster, a consultant to the government of Ireland regarding radioactive contamination of the Irish Sea, and a scientific consultant to the Chernobyl enquiry.

Perhaps most bizarre is that fact that the MacLellan government’s own tests have clearly show the Frederick Street area to be contaminated with an array of toxic chemicals - several well beyond Canadian (CCME) Health Guidelines.

Liberal MLA, Paul MacEwan, recently stated that the province is not responsible for moving residents, and that if the province were to pay to move some families - it would have to do the same for countless others. Bingo. Mr. MacEwan just gave away the MacLellan government’s true motive - avoid spending any money at any cost (even human life).

Frederick Street resident Juanita McKenzie publicly stated she would move tomorrow is she could afford it but she can’t, and she can no longer sell her house. Let’s be realistic, who in their right mind would buy a house with toxic chemicals oozing out of the backyard?

Instead, Mr. MacEwan insists that cleaning up the site is the answer to the problems on Frederick Street. Mr. MacEwan isn’t the sharpest knife in drawer - one only has to look to last summer when the nightmare on Frederick Street began. Provincial tests had just shown the soil to be contaminated with an array of toxic chemicals, including arsenic - 18.5 times greater than Canadian guidelines. Mr. MacEwan responded to outraged Frederick Street residents by saying, “they would have to eat the soil to be affected by the arsenic.” The next day government officials immediately rebuked Mr. MacEwan’s less-than-scholarly remarks.

According the IICPH, to “clean up the site”, as Mr. MacEwan suggests, would put the Frederick Street residents in even greater danger! Perhaps, Mr. MacEwan should just keep his mouth shut. Imagine living on Frederick Street, knowing your life (and that of your family) is in great danger, and having to listen to an elected official repeatedly make ludicrous, unresearched, unfounded statements like this.

For the past several months, all the Russell MacLellan government has said (albeit repeatedly) is to “let JAG (the organization assigned with cleaning up Sydney’s toxic legacy) do their job.” Well JAG is “trying to do its job”. In fact, JAG recently made a very important, perhaps life or death, recommendation - relocate the Frederick Street residents no later than June 1st. Unfortunately for the residents, the MacLellan government immediately shunned that decision.

The Russell MacLellan government, by not heeding this important JAG recommendation, and that of the IICPH, is clearly subjecting the residents of Frederick Street to conditions that no animal (let alone a human being) should face. If anyone thinks that Russell MacLellan, or Paul MacEwan for that matter, give a damn about their health, or that of their families, think again. All they care about is money. Every Canadian should be horrified. Bradford Duplisea

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