Mon., Jan. 22, 2007 Link To Herald The Halifax Herald Limited

Activist: Study confirms cleanup plan problems


Sydney - A Sydney environmentalist says a recently published study cites significant potential problems with the proposed stabilization and solidification methods to clean up the Sydney tar ponds.

Bruno Marcocchio says the study supports what the Cape Breton chapter the Sierra Club has been saying for years about plans to solidify some contaminants in the ground, while removing others for incineration. "This solution has many problems —it's not permanent, and it will not contain residues, and they will continue to leach," he said Sunday.

The article, written by a California-based environmental consulting firm, says there are "significant potential problems with the proposed remediation." The article appears in the winter edition of Remediation: The Journal of Environmental Cleanup Costs, Technologies and Techniques.

Specifically, it states that high-density polyethylene sheeting proposed to keep the groundwater away from the contaminated areas is "subject to deterioration."Another concern is that the contaminants will not mix with the cement-like material planned for use in the stabilization process, preventing it from hardening, Mr. Marcocchio said.

The authors of the article, Fred and Anne Jones-Lee, spoke at hearings conducted by the panel reviewing cleanup options last spring at the request of the Cape Breton chapter of the Sierra Club.

Sydney Tar Ponds Agency spokesman Parker Donham said he was unfamiliar with the study, but questioned the environmentalist's assessment of it. "Bruno is an informant of proven unreliability. He cannot be relied upon to accurately describe anything he reads," Mr. Donham said Sunday. "I really don't propose to get into a debate with Bruno about some imagined shortcomings of technology that have been proven safe and effective throughout the world on similar sites," Mr. Donham said.

In regards to the cement mixture, Mr. Donham said the review panel recommended the agency "carry out additional bench scale and pilot testing to ensure that we obtain the right mixture specific to contaminants that are present in the tar ponds, and that's exactly what we're doing."

A sampling program will begin in the next few weeks, he said.

He encouraged all area residents to read the review panel's findings posted on the Sydney tar ponds website (