Premier may get Sysco receiver involved in tar ponds remediation

By Wes Stewart
Cape Breton Post
Thursday, Mar. 3, 2004

SYDNEY - Premier John Hamm is so pleased with the efficient way Sysco was scrapped, he may get the receiver, Ernst & Young, to be part of the remediation of the tar ponds and coke ovens sites.

Hamm told a Transcontinental Media editorial board meeting, in Sydney, Tuesday, the province is now looking at a process to efficiently address the whole cleanup operation at the former steel plant.

A company from India is about to dismantle the remaining parts of the plant it purchased last year. "I am pleased at what has been achieved at the Sysco site" and the province will study ways to roll the cleanup of the tar ponds and coke ovens with the Sysco remediation. He said they want to focus on the success to date and the completion of the work. From the government’s perspective they are making progress on a difficult file and would not rule out E&Y in an ongoing role, he said.

The government Crown corporations responsible for the Sysco cleanup are looking at the existing process to see if that is the appropriate one. "We have made considerable progress and we are looking at signing an agreement with the federal government on the bigger challenge, the cleanup of the tar ponds and the coke ovens. "We just want to make sure we have the appropriate process in place to deal with it from an administrative point of view."

Not everyone has been totally satisfied with the approach they’ve taken, but from his perspective he feels the Sysco receivers Ernst & Young have done a good job. "We certainly are not going to exclude them," the premier added.

The Cape Breton Post learned earlier the mothballed tar ponds incinerator, located on the Sysco site, may be sold off, demolished and the site levelled. Hamm would only say the positioning of the incinerator is unfortunate.

Sydney Environmental Resources Ltd., the Crown agency responsible for the tar ponds incinerator, may learn as early as Thursday if it has a future. The SERL board of directors will meet then to go over its upcoming annual budget.

Sources say SERL likely will be rolled into the Sysco demolition that is now being managed by receivers Ernst & Young.