Province's timeline allows ample time for panel review

Letter to the editor from Elizabeth May
Cape Breton Post
Sat., Jan. 15, 2005

If the delegation that visited Environment Minister Stephane Dion is serious about beginning the clean-up "without delay," then they wasted their time with Minister Dion. They should target the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Public Works.

In its documentation calling for expressions of interest from contractors, Nova Scotia Transportation and Public Works makes it clear that the clean up cannot begin until "preventative measures" have been completed. These are listed as being: Re-routing the Coke Ovens Brook, removing the cooling pond, relocating Victoria Road Water Main and building a Cofferdam at Battery Point.

These four steps are described as being required "before these (clean up) technologies are implemented." The completion dates for these preventative measures is stated to be fiscal 2006-2007.

So, let's take a deep breath here and stop accusing people -- whether federal agencies, or the Sierra Club of Canada, or the Nova Scotia government -- of "delay."

No clean-up, whether using environmentally and technologically advanced or out-dated technologies, can begin until preventative measures are completed. The preventative measures described can, and should, start right away.

That leaves, according to N.S. Transportation and Public Works, something like eighteen months to two years before the actual clean-up can start -- even if federal environmental assessment law did not apply.

However, federal environmental assessment law does apply. The time while the preventative measures are being completed is more than adequate for a panel review.

As noted on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency website, the average time for recent panel reviews has been 14 months. The reality is that the first steps to clean up, the four preventative measures, can start without delay.

The incineration of PCB-laden sludge and burial of the other contaminants (90% of what remains), could not possibly start until 2007.

Elizabeth E. May
Executive Director
Sierra Club of Canada