Saturday, December 18, 2004 Link To Herald The Halifax Herald Limited

Public to have say in incinerator location


SYDNEY - The provincial agency charged with cleaning up Sydney's tar ponds and coke ovens sites says the public will have a chance to comment on where contaminated material will be burned.

Parker Donham, spokesman for the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, said that the definitive site for the mobile PCB incinerator to be used to burn material hasn't been decided yet.

AMEC Earth and Environmental Ltd. is preparing the 200-page technical description of the work to be done. The final draft was expected to be delivered to the agency Friday.

An appendix will include a list of possible incinerator sites and the pros and cons of each site. AMEC will also rate each site.

Mr. Donham couldn't comment on the contents of the appendix.

He did say that the public will have a chance to comment on the appendix during a one-month review period and during the environmental assessment of the technical definition - whether it be a government-led comprehensive review or a full panel review led by a government-appointed expert.

"I expect that appendix will probably be quite controversial," Mr. Donham said, "but the public will have plenty opportunity to comment on this or any other part of the cleanup."

He said the definition and its appendix should be made public in mid-January.

The tar ponds and coke ovens sites are the result of 100 years of steelmaking under private- and public-sector ownership. There is 700,000 tonnes of sludge rich with potentially cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons inside the two tar ponds, which cover over 32 hectares in the downtown core. The 72-hectare coke ovens site also contains 300,000 tonnes of sludge.

Bruno Marcocchio, who represents the Sierra Club's Cape Breton chapter, said his group welcomes the opportunity to comment before the environmental assessment is chosen.

"We'll be insisting to the federal government to choose a full panel review, which is the only environmental assessment empowered to examine alternatives to incineration," he said. "Incineration anywhere in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is unacceptable."