Domtar waste hits the road

WebPosted by: CBC - Aug 13 2003 05:23 PM ADT

SYDNEY, N.S.  —  Trucks have begun transporting the toxic sludge from the old Domtar tank in Sydney to Quebec, as part of the cleanup of the Sydney tar ponds.

About 1,000 tonnes of coal tar oil will be trucked to an incinerator in Ville Mercier, Que., over the next two months.

Thirty truckloads will be moved to Quebec

Thirty truckloads will be moved to Quebec

"I think it's really important for people to keep some sense of perspective," says Parker Donham, a spokesperson for the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency.

Similar types of oil are regularly trucked around Canada, he says. Coal tar oil is a thick, black liquid used in driveway sealant, asphalt and roofing compounds.

"It consists of a material that meets all the specs of a common industrial product that's used ubiquitously throughout Canada."

A waste holding tank

A waste holding tank

A resident of St. Martin, the small town near the incinerator, says Quebec shouldn't be hauling in waste from other provinces. Gabriel Gregoire says the ground water in his community is already polluted.

"Don't send problems to other provinces," he says. "We import waste from the U.S. and now from Sydney."

Last December, 200 people rallied in Sarnia, Ont., to try to stop the planned shipment of waste to their community. Residents threatened to blockade the trucks.

The Sierra Club of Canada has lobbied to have the coal tar oil dealt with in Sydney by a chemical process.

The club's scientific adviser, Daniel Green, calls it a "risky proposal" to export hazardous waste to other areas of Canada. "Yes, hazardous waste is shipped around Canada, but that doesn't make it right."

Removing the sludge and contaminated water will cost close to $4 million – a slice of the $60 million spent so far on the tar ponds and coke oven cleanup.

Members of the Joint Action Group made a recommendation last May to spend about $450 million over seven years to clean up what's been called Canada's most contaminated sites.