CBC Information Morning discusses last JAG meeting

Pointed exchange between STPA's Frank Potter, environmentalist Marlene Kane and JAG's Glenn Hanam

Radio Transcript - CBC Information Morning - Sydney

CBC Cape Breton
Thurs., Sept. 18, 2003

Ian MacNeil (host): The question of how to destroy sludge from the Sydney Tar Ponds came up last night at the final meeting of the Joint Action Group. More specifically the question of where it will be destroyed. JAG made recommendations based on a workbook survey done in the Sydney area. Now let's listen to an exchange between community activist Marlene Kane, municipal engineer Frank Potter and the head of the remediation working group Glenn Hanam.

Marlene Kane: A large percentage of 1750 people who filled out the workbook choose to burn the hazardous waste at a power plant, specifically Point Aconi has been discussed. This idea has been clearly rejected by that community of late. Parker Donham said in the Post today (September 17, 2003) that Sydney should be mindful that there is considerable pressure to find a local solution. This indicates to me that the JAG recommendation to government is being set aside and that a local solution must be determined. So my question is, I'd like to know, what remediation options are now being considered by government?

Frank Potter: Governments are simply taking the recommendation of JAG and we're considering it and looking at the options..

Dan Fraser: I'm sorry, I can't hear you.

Frank: Government has, you know, they're considering the options that have been presented by the community and they're reviewing it and we can't say much further than that at this point in time. It will be a decision of government that will certainly be made obviously when it comes to be.

Marlene: So has government clearly decided not to burn it at the Point Aconi plant.

Frank: I can't answer that Marlene.

Marlene: You can't answer that.

Frank: I can tell you what I've just said. I can repeat it but..

Marlene: It's really a non-answer Frank, that's the only problem.

Frank: It's the best answer. Nobody sitting at this table can speak for the senior levels of government. Governments have been given the recommendation from the community. We've stated all along that they'll require some time to review that recommendation. There's much to be done to get a recommendation for hundreds of millions of dollars put through government for approval. I think everybody can appreciate it will take some time and nobody here can tell you what that answer will be.

Marlene: It just already sounds like Parker Donham has decided that it won't be going there or is announcing that it won't be going there.

Frank: That would be your interpretation of the newspaper article.

Dan Fraser: Glenn, you wanted to make a comment.

Glenn: I just want to bring, one more time, that the Joint Action Group recommendation did not recommend burning it at any particular facility. There's nothing in the recommendation about any place or any particular location where that was going to be burned. Although, it seems to be gaining popular, I'd guess you'd call it the reigning error that JAG recommended we burn it at Point Aconi. When we did our tech demo with TD Enviro. Their proposal was to process the sludge into fuel that could be burned at any power plant or cement kiln. So there was no recommendation from JAG to burn sludge at Point Aconi.

Marlene: It was discussed that it be Point Aconi. I also understood that some of the costing factors from the RAER (remedial action and evaluation report) report were based on it going to Point Aconi. Is that not true?

Glenn: No

Marlene: So no government or consultant organization took Pt. Aconi into account at all?

Glenn: The costing factors were not based on Pt. Aconi. There was no discussion with Pt. Aconi prior to that and we could not know whether they would accept the material or not. It seems like an obvious thing to try and move it to the closest one, but the costs were based on information that we had where similar things have been done elsewhere.

Marlene: Well, obviously the idea is out in the community that Pt. Aconi was a choice location, as far as the recommendation went, not from my perspective, but it was a location being considered of course, that's why there were community meetings held on the Northside - to see how residents felt.

Glenn: I don't know why the people on the Northside got together, that would be for them to figure out not me. All I know is when we were discussing the RAER, we were talking about technologies, not facilities.

Ian MacNeil: An exchange from last night's final JAG meeting. We heard there from Marlene Kane, Frank Potter, Glenn Hanam and JAG Chair Dan Fraser.


Yvonne Leblanc-Smith (announcer): People on the Northside want reassurance that Tar Ponds sludge won't be burned at the Pt. Aconi power plant. The question came up again at last night's final meeting. It became a concern after the Joint Action Group recommended co-burning as one of the possible methods of getting rid of the Tar Ponds sludge. Garth Bangay is the outgoing Environment Canada representative on JAG. He says no one has recommended where the co-burning ought to be done.

Garth: Point Aconi has never been put forward by the JAG or by the governments as a site for doing this.

Hal Higgins (reporter): Is the concern ungrounded?

Garth: Well the concern...listen those folks met, they've let us know what they think and we've heard what they've said.

Yvonne: JAG made its recommendation on cleanup methods almost 4 months ago. It's waiting for government to come up with a project proposal for the final cleanup.