Residents near power plant invited to workshops

Point Aconi
Cape Breton Post
Saturday, June 21, 2003

Governments are seeking input from 2,000 residents living near a power plant capable of burning toxic sludge from Canada's worst toxic waste site.

Parker Donham, spokesperson for the provincial Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, said letters were delivered Friday to five communities bordering the Point Aconi Power Plant. The correspondence was to notify residents of a series of workshops to begin Monday.

The effort is the result of fears raised by residents neighbouring the plant's twin-fluidized bed incinerator - the closest off-site incinerator capable of co-burning toxic sludge from the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens sites. The possibility that the toxic sludge will be burned in their back yards was realized when the Joint Action Group made a recommendation to governments in May.

That recommendation was to co-burn the waste at a power plant or cement kiln and was the result of 1,700 responses gathered at workshops attended mostly by residents neighbouring the toxic site and not the power plant.

A workshop aimed at gathering input from Point Aconi residents was held before the recommendation was made but the session was poorly attended.

Donham said government, "won't reopen the recommendation process or roll it into the other stats. It will just be another piece of information government will use when deciding what form of cleanup will be done."

Donham said the sessions will provide information on the 10 technologies proposed to clean up the tar ponds and coke ovens.

He did caution that "to have an informed opinion, you have to be prepared to listen to what the experts have told us about the options. "We're not too impressed with people who come into a meeting and start yelling and screaming. But we're certainly interested in hearing people who want to listen to the work that's been done, learn about the work that's been done, and ask the questions that they have. At the end of the day, reasonable people can come to reasonable conclusions."

Monday's session will be held at the Point Aconi Hall. A second session will be held Tuesday at the Alder Point Community Centre; followed by a session Wednesday, July 2 at Bras d'Or Hall, and a session Thursday July 3 at the Millville Community Centre. The meetings will end at the Big Bras d'Or Fire Hall, Friday July 4. All sessions will begin at 6:30 p.m. and end around 9 p.m.