Health Department looking for alternate methods to dispose of biomedical waste

By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Wed. Feb. 2, 2005

The Health Department is making good on its promise to look for other ways of getting rid of Nova Scotia's biomedical waste.

In information released Tuesday, it was reconfirmed that the provincial Health Department will seek expressions of interest until Feb. 17 from contractors interested in proposing new ways of waste disposal.

About two million kilograms of the province's biomedical waste is currently being burned "at the Cape Breton Rgional Municipality's incinerator located along Grand Lake Road in Sydney.

Environmental activist Marlene Kane, a longtime critic of incineration, said she has correspondence dating back to 2002 from provincial health ministers of the day pledging that the province would look for other methods of disposal.

"The Cape Breton Regional Municipality is in violation of provincial guidelines for dioxins and furans for the past four years," said Kane. "Finding a safer and more effective method of disposing of the province's biomedical waste is long overdue."

The province stated Tuesday it will forward disposal proposals to a selection committee that will then decide on a short-list of potential candidates. The successful proposal must undergo a comprehensive environmental assessment conducted by the provincial Environment and Labour Department.

Kane said she's concerned the process may take longer than the province's current contract allows, which is the end of 2005. "The contract has already been extended by three years beyond the original five-year contract," said Kane. "I'm concerned the contract will be extended yet again. It just can't go on any longer than it has."

There is some comfort in knowing the province is seriously looking at alternative methods, she added. However, it may not be long before the island is faced with another incinerator.

Kane said one of the methods of disposal planned for PCB-contaminated waste at the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens sites is incineration.

"The shame is that we just get rid of this incinerator and they're going to bring another one in to burn hazardous waste," she said. "Cape Breton is incineration alley "