Provincial, federal governments prepare to environmentally assess toxic sites

Tanya Collier MacDonald
Cape Breton Post
Thursday, Dec. 11, 2003

Money is still being spent on cleaning up the tar ponds and coke ovens sites as both the federal and provincial governments prepare to conduct an environmental assessment on the toxic waste land.

Parker Donham, spokesperson for the provincial Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, said about $80,000 was spent to complete a topographical survey on the site - a contract awarded to the Halifax firm Servant Dunbrack McKenzie and MacDonald.

Contractors are now considering options for realigning Coke Oven Brook on the site - work valued at about $100,000. The Domtar Tank is still being removed by Clean Harbors - a contract worth about $3.7 million. A monitoring program aimed at determining whether water quality is improving following the capping of the landfill site and other progressive initiatives, is near completion. That contract is worth nearly $300,000.

Tenders have been called for proposals on disposal options for the Sysco cooling pond, and to prepare for the construction of a coffer dam at the north pond near Battery Point, said Donham.

Government is also preparing tenders for the first stage of the environmental assessment required by law before the big cleanup project can begin. That involves a description of possible environmental worries that may exist at the sites.

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality is the lead contractor in responding to an issue with the Victoria Road water main. That pipe provides drinking water to about 2,000 Whitney Pier customers and runs through one of the most contaminated parts of the coke ovens site. It's been reported that a travelling tar cell laced with naphthalene is near the water main. The structure is about 90 years old and the water is fed from the Sydney well fields.

A tender is also being prepared for a possible leachate treatment program on the coke ovens site, said Donham.

The total amount of funds under the cost-share agreement is now nearly $72 million. The original amount was $62 million, however, another $8.1 million was added for off-site work including biological testing, a chronic health risk assessment and remediation work.

The regional municipality also added $1.8 million for sewer work.

Under the agreement, money that has been committed by contract before March 31, 2004, can be spent up to March 31, 2005, said Donham.