CBU students oppose incinerator

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

SYDNEY ó The Cape Breton University studentsí union has taken a stand against the planned incineration of PCB-contaminated tar ponds sludge.

President Jamie Crane said the students representative council believes incineration is not a safe option for the cleanup of Canadaís most notorious contaminated site. She added they are doubly worried because of the proximity of the university campus to the Victoria Junction Wash Plant, which has been selected as the preferred site to locate the mobile incinerator that will burn the sludge.

Itís expected to burn up to 150,000 tonnes of sludge from the tar ponds and coke ovens sites for at least three years. "I think on a diagonal, itís two kilometres from our institution," Crane said. "Anybody who goes to this campus day in and day out knows the wind blowing, it comes right across our campus . . . They didnít want to see it near their campus, but they also spoke that they didnít want to see it in any community."

The union intends to send letters expressing its opposition to federal Public Works Minister Scott Brison and Environment Minister Stephane Dion.

The students representative council is the highest governing body of the student union, Crane noted. "They are the voice of the students at UCCB and they have voted to oppose this," she said.

Itís a particular concern for the up to 500 students living on campus, Crane noted. With the declining on-island population of young people, the university is looking farther afield to recruit students, with many of the international students looking to live on-campus. "Youíd never be able to attract people here with that," Crane said. "Peopleís health is the biggest, biggest concern here . . . I think itís disgraceful that anyone would come forward with this type of option when there are so many safer options out there, and to plunk it in the middle of a community, it wouldnít happen anywhere else."

Environment Canada and the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency released the proposed cleanup plan earlier this month. The total amount of PCB-contaminated sludge is about 3.8 tonnes.