Friday, July 15, 2005 Link To Herald The Halifax Herald Limited


Cleanup projects

Remove and incinerate 120,000 tonnes of sediment containing PCBs, 1,300 tonnes of PAH-contaminated sediment and 25,000 tonnes of PAH-contaminated material.

Redirect ground and surface water at both the tar ponds and coke ovens sites to minimize water contact with contaminants.

Treat remaining contaminated soils at the coke ovens site using land farming, a form of bioremediation.

Build a containment system and a cap on the tar ponds site and a soil cover at the coke ovens site.

Restore and landscape both sites.

Monitor both sites for 25 years.

N.S. has tar pond final say
Province can overrule review panel; Ottawa controls money

By Our Staff

Nova Scotia and Ottawa have set the rules for a public review of the province's plan to clean up a million tonnes of contaminated soil and sludge in Sydney.

But no matter what the panel says, the province will have the final say on how the cleanup is done.

"The panel can make a recommendation and (the Nova Scotia environment minister) can decide to go with it or not," provincial spokesman Chris Daly said Thursday.

The province favours taking 120,000 tonnes of tar ponds sediment containing PCBs and other cancer-causing chemicals and burning it. It would use clay, concrete and soil to cap the rest. Soil on the adjacent coke ovens site would be cleaned.

Ottawa retains some input on the plan since it will pay a substantial share of the costs. It also issues the permits for the work to start. But it won't make recommendations of its own.

"If the federal government doesn't agree to the project going ahead, then the project won't go ahead," said Mr. Daly, the Environment Department's manager of environmental assessments.

The panel rules were released Thursday after an agreement was reached between provincial Environment Minister Kerry Morash and federal minister Stephane Dion.

NDP environment critic Michele Raymond said she was glad that a full panel will review the project. The province had favoured a shorter review process.

The ministers will jointly select the three panel members.

The panel will hold public hearings in Cape Breton Regional Municipality to examine the cleanup project proposed by the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, alternatives to the project and the way it will be carried out.

The panel will also look at environmental and socio-economic effects "including the environmental effects of malfunctions or accidents" and future monitoring programs.

The members will hear from the public and will have the power to summon witnesses to testify or produce documents as one would in court.

Environmentalists don't like the plan as proposed. The Sierra Club of Canada and environmentalists such as David Suzuki prefer other methods, such as cleaning the soil on-site.

The Sierra Clubs of Canada and the U.S. were meeting at White Point Beach Lodge on Thursday. Elizabeth May, the national executive director, could not be reached Wednesday.

Parker Donham, spokesman for the tar ponds agency, said: "We welcome the opportunity to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the proposed cleanup based on scientific evidence."

The panel is expected to come up with an environmental impact statement by Dec. 30. It will be made public for 48 days.

If the panel notes any deficiencies with the statement, it has two weeks to ask for further information.

"Once it is satisfied that the necessary information has been provided," the panel will give 21 days' notice before the start of the hearings, which will last up to 21 days. The hearings can be extended only with the approval of both ministers.

The panel will deliver its recommendations to the ministers within 55 days after the close of the hearings.

Once the report is translated into French, and before a decision is made, it will be released to the public, Mr. Daly said.

The federal government has agreed to pay for 70 per cent of the review, while the province will foot the remaining 30 per cent. It's not known how much the review will cost, but the provincial Environment Department and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will prepare a budget before the review panel is selected.