Sydney tar ponds get $400-million cleanup

CBC - Nova Scotia
Wed, 12 May 2004 11:21:41 AM

SYDNEY - The federal government and the province of Nova Scotia announced Wednesday they will spend $400 million over 10 years to clean up the toxic waste in the Sydney tar ponds.

The tar ponds, two pools of sludge containing 700 thousand tonnes of chemicals including PCBs, are one of Canada's most toxic sites. Studies have linked the site to a myriad of problems, including higher cancer rates for nearby residents.

Premier John Hamm and three federal cabinet ministers, including federal Environment Minister David Anderson signed the deal in Sydney. The federal government will provide up to $280 million dollars and Nova Scotia will put in the other $120 million.

The cleanup will be done in two steps. First, the most toxic matter, 45,000 tonnes of sludge, will be burned on site. Much of the remaining material will be treated, then capped and landscaped.

There have been two failed attempts in the past 20 years to clean up the site. Officials are quick to point out that the latest cleanup methods are all proven technologies that have been used at other contaminated sites across North America.

In the past, any suggestion of burning the toxic waste in the city met with opposition.

The cleanup of the tar ponds won't happen soon. An environmental assessment is required before any work can begin.

Officials said the area could be transformed into a park with walking trails, sports fields or a golf course in the next 10 years.

Written by CBC News Online staff