CBU students oppose incinerator

By Nancy King
Cape Breton Post
Mon., Feb. 28, 2005

Sydney - One of the last shipments of PCB-laden transformers owned by Sysco have been packed up in containers and trucked to Albertaís Swan Hills for incineration.

Hundreds of the transformers were removed and placed in a PCB storage compound at the Sydney site since demotion work started a few years back. The most recent shipment left about two weeks ago. "There may be one or two transformers left," said John Traves, Sysco president.

Qualified individuals have been emptying the transformers and sealing the material in drums as part of the Cradle to the Grave program regulated by the federal government to manage PCBs, he said. "They track every ounce," said Traves. Once prepared for transfer, a contractor trucked the material to an approved incinerator. A certificate of destruction is submitted at the end of the process. "Nobody is burying it in the woods," said Traves.

When the decommissioning of the former steel plant began, each transformer on the property was tested for PCBs, he said. Hundreds were confirmed to have the toxic material, which was also detailed in a manifest maintained at the steel plant. Traves said there are no signs that transformers were leaking on site and all of the units are accounted for. "Sysco was good for tracking them," he said. "It had an up-to-date inventory." In total, about 50 tonnes of PCBs have been removed and destroyed from the site. That total far outweighs the 3.8 tonnes layered along the bottom of the tar ponds and coke ovens sites.

Traves said the PCB problem at Sysco was simpler to manage because the material was contained, not sitting in muck at the bottom of a pond. "How would you separate it," he asked. "With ours, itís pure PCBs. Itís already contained." On Syscoís website, itís reported that 70 per cent of demolition at the site is complete. Murray Demolition, with its head office in Toronto, is the main contractor on the project.

Along with the transformers, 25 buildings have been demolished including the machine shop, calcite plant and old roll shop. The scrapyard crane and runway, and the SE bulk fuel storage tank were among the latest of Syscoís equipment to be demolished.

Sysco is planning to use the property as an industrial park in the future and has partnered with Enterprise Cape Breton Corp. and retained Deloitte and Touche Fantus to help market the site to potential tenants. A property development plan is also being created. Site assessments have been completed as well and a project plan is being developed to address recommendations contained in that report.