Municipal council votes against incineration of tar ponds sludge

by Chris Shannon
Cape Breton Post
Fri., Jan 27, 2006

SYDNEY - Incineration has been the accepted technology to rid the community of tar ponds sludge, however the Cape Breton Regional Municipality council has made a firm stand - it wants that option taken off the table citing the health and safety of residents.

In a 14-1 vote Tuesday night, councillors passed a motion tabled by Coun. Vince Hall that has the CBRM on record as opposed to the incineration of polychlorinated biphenyls and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

The municipality will also write to the independent panel reviewing the cleanup process to advise the body of its opposition to incineration.

Hall said the risks of having a mobile incinerator operating at the former Victoria Junction Coal Preparation Plant is too great for the residents in the area, who are represented by Hall on municipal council.

It's for that reason council voted to push forward with this motion of having the contaminants treated before being buried underground. "We are clearly supporting the alternative means, which will be stabilization, solidification (to treat the contamination), and encapsulation," Hall said.

The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency released an environmental impact statement earlier this month that proposes stabilizing 580,000 tonnes of the toxic sludge on site and transporting the remaining 120,000 tonnes of sludge, which contains the most hazardous PCBs and PAHs, to an incinerator at Victoria Junction.

The federal government decided on a full panel review of the cleanup last May. It is expected to convene in the spring with a final report due in June.

Hall said council's decision to reject incineration will be hard for the panel to ignore.

Parker Donham, spokesperson for the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, said from an environmental and financial perspective, council's choice of backing encapsulation of all materials rather than incineration is acceptable. However, he said the agency will continue to defend its own plan before the panel.