Sysco's poisonous legacy still with us

Letter To The Editor - Jim Peers
Cape Breton Post
Thursday, May 22, 2003

In the first war of the 21st Century it took five weeks to topple Saddam Hussein. However,it took 10 years to conceive and digitize the "tooth and tail" weapons and logistical support to end it quickly, with a low loss of life.

But 37 years after governments took it over, Nova Scotia voters still allow Sysco to contaminate the greater Sydney area with cancerous toxic emissions from the plant, harbour, tar ponds and coke oven sites. This is virtually the same as chemical warfare.

It now seems possible that more Nova Scotians will die from Sysco generated contaminants than the Coalition forces lost in Iraq. However, there is no will among voters for closure. Therefore, Canada's worst toxic site is unlikely to be remediated as announced.

This smacks of victimizing Sysco politics, when a new marketing plan, budget, or marches on Halifax got politicians re-elected. Although Nova Scotians voted to close the plant - they didn't vote to clean-up its toxic by products. This explains why politicians are slow to recognize the incapacitating health effects of toxic emissions from all Sysco sites on its ex-employees, plus citizens in adjacent and down wind neighbourhoods.

Fast track remediation is an obligation of governments regardless of cost. It is not a choice, for successive governments who willfully let Sysco break virtually all federal, provincial, municipal environmental and safety regulations for 37 years.

If Sysco's remediation doesn't proceed on a schedule to completion within five years max, the youthful talent, ambition and audacity shown in Cape Breton since the steel plant closed, will vapourize along with new investsment. When municipal tax revenues dry up after the kids leave this time, where to for further bail outs? the UN?

As long as voters don't care, Sysco's toxic sites will wallow, fester, emit poisons and compound its undocumented off book interest costs to Nova Scotia - now an estimated $6 billion debt.

This is an all party political legacy to Nova Scotia youth, so all party support is required to fund the cleanup.

Jim Peers, Sydney