Membertou tar ponds project attracting attention

Five companies in the running

By Tanya Collier MacDonald
Cape Breton Post
Feb. 25, 2009

SYDNEY - Membertou has five suitors competing for a chance to partner in an aboriginal set-aside for a cleanup project at Sydney's tar ponds site. "We have two from the United States, one from Germany and two from Canada," said Bernd Christmas, chief executive officer of the First Nation community. "We have a lot of interest from around the world."

In December, the provincial government made an historic step when it agreed to tender the clean up of the contaminated cooling pond as an aboriginal set-aside.

Although the project garnered serious interest from environmental companies, other opportunities on the island are on the radar as well. Christmas said that some additional areas of interest include the remediation of the Sysco site and Devco properties.

The province has budgeted $700,000 for environmental studies at the Sysco sites. Sea-cor Environmental Inc. is the Environmental Management Consultant for the demolition, remediation and redevelopment of the site.

The property has undergone environmental assessments, and the Department of Public Works is more than midway through the remediation of former mine sites owned by Devco.

The department supervised the demolition of surface structures at mine sites and related facilities in Glace Bay, New Waterford and the Victoria Junction coal preparation plant.

It's been reported that Devco has 700 parcels of land, covering 11,000 acres in 38 communities, a large percentage of the properties predate the establishment of the Crown corporation in 1967.

"These are three scenarios," said Christmas. The tender for the cooling pond is expected soon. The Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton Mi'kmaq First Nation communities signed the protocol agreement to guide discussions on economic opportunities throughout the tar ponds and coke ovens' cleanup.

An environmental impact statement has been prepared by the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency for the cleanup of the tar ponds and coke ovens.

Independent panel hearings on the statement are planned to begin in April.