Lawyer: Sysco suit tip of iceberg

By Rachel Boomer
Halifax Daily News
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

A Brampton, Ont., widow and her family who say they’ve gotten cancer from years of living near the infamous Sydney Steel plant are only the tip of an iceberg’s worth of people planning to sue over the area’s environmental contamination.

That’s according to lawyer Ray Wagner, who filed the Lirette family’s intended lawsuit at Nova Scotia Supreme Court last week.

“Those claims range from property damage to health issues,” Wagner said Sunday, adding anywhere from 150 to 200 families will likely file lawsuits against the province and Ottawa over the summer.

Wagner said damages could “absolutely” run into millions of dollars.

He said some families will sue over the lost value of their homes in the area, while others have contracted cancer and believe it’s from carginogens emitted by the area’s notorious coke ovens and tar ponds.

That’s the case for the family of Pius Joseph Lirette, whose widow and daughters filed a notice of their intended suit against the province and Sysco on Thursday. They say Lirette died of cancer after spending his first 21 years near the toxic steel plant, its coke ovens and tar ponds.

The lawsuit also says four other family members who live in Whitney Pier have also been diagnosed with cancer.

The lawsuit was filed by Lirette’s wife, Linda Mae, who now lives in Brampton, Ont., his two daughters and three grandchildren.

No defence has been filed in the lawsuit yet.