Move people before next cleanup

By Mary Ruth MacLellan
Cape Breton Post Weekend Feedback
Sat. April. 3, 2004

I have read with some amusement but great sadness the written attacks between Joint Action Group and Sierra Club members. What a waste of words, time, news space and energy!

Attack one another and people lose sight of what's important, the real issue. Perhaps the Post editor as well as the writers of these letters is unaware that only small minds discuss people. I would have expected more from people who should be intelligent enough to remember what's most relevant. It's not a he-said/ she-said debate. Here are what I believe are some of the relevant facts.

We have all failed miserably to protect the health of children who tested positive for toxins in their blood; some are struggling with motor skill and speech development. Some toxins and chemicals will store in cells and can become active later in life, causing auto immune diseases, cancers and so on. Toxins in the developing years can mutate genes, and mutations can be passed on to future generations.

It is the responsibility of all of us to see that we provide the safest, healthiest environment for children.

We have allowed a blatant abuse of our tax dollars to cover up a dump that is still leaching toxins, to build a sewer system that by design is going to overflow, and to build an incinerator at a cost of millions. Government took owner ship of the incinerator knowing it didn't work but continued to waste millions to maintain it even after a 1998 report recommended it be dismantled for obvious reasons.

People, especially children, continue to live in an unsafe environment while government remediates one area, skipping the one next door, perhaps using a magic wand - or maybe the chemicals skipped one property to go on to another. Even the cartoon character Goofy is not naive enough to believe this.

The only way our government will listen is if there is the strength of numbers - masses of people who are not afraid to stand up and be counted.

We have wasted enough money to build a whole new community. The $62 million spent through JAG would have moved 1,240 homes at an average cost of $50,000 a house. Imagine the new community centres, arenas, churches and parks that the many millions wasted on the first cleanup attempt could have built, not to mention the businesses it could have helped.

There are proven technologies to clean up the toxins safely but the single most essential thing is to make the people, especially the children, safe before any cleanup begins. Move the people, or at least give them the option of moving out of harm's way. Keep pettiness out of our paper. We in Cape Breton , already have enough black marks.

Mary Ruth MacLellan
Glace Bay