Sierra Club delivers petition to Ottawa against incineration

By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Wed. Mar. 9, 2005

The Sierra Club of Canada is hoping that more than 4,000 signatures opposing incineration will be seriously considered when government decides how to assess cleanup plans for the tar ponds and coke ovens sites.

The national environmental advocacy group delivered a petition in Ottawa, Tuesday to Public Works Minister Scott Brison with help from Charles Caccia, an environment minister during former prime minister Pierre Trudeau's reign.

The document listed those expressing their "grave concerns" and opposition to the current government plan to burn PCB contaminated sludge from the sites.

"I urge Minister Brison and Environment Minister Stephane Dion to ensure there is a full panel review," Caccia said in a press release. "It need not take any more time than a comprehensive study and it could avoid another expensive and dangerous failed cleanup."

Marlene Kane, a volunteer who participated in 11 signing sessions at local shopping centres in Sydney said the majority of the signatures were collected from island residents. And, about 500 names were submitted electronically through the group's website at

"The community is sending a clear message to the federal and provincial governments," said Kane. "I hope they recognize the public's concern." Kane said. Those responding to the petition seemed grateful to have the opportunity to express their concerns. "The response has been overwhelming," she said.

Elizabeth May, executive director of the Sierra Club, said she believes the petition will have a significant impact on the federal environment minister's decision.

In the coming months, Dion must determine if the environmental assessment of cleanup plans for the toxic sites will continue as a government-led comprehensive study or switch to an independent full panel review.

"In the history of environmental assessment, I cannot think of another project that so clearly required a full panel," said May. "Much of the money is federal. Much of the land is federal - both the tar ponds and the proposed site for the incinerator."

There is a high risk of significant environmental impacts, both in disturbing the material and leaving most of the waste in an unlined creek bed, she said. And, as seen by the last 30 days, as well as the last 20 years, there is a great deal of public concern.