Board will monitor Environment Department on tar ponds cleanup

By Doug Mackenzie
Cape Breton Post
Sat., Mar. 8, 2008

SYDNEY - A three-member board has already begun work monitoring and reporting on how the Department of the Environment and Labour is performing as the primary regulator of the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens clean-up project.

"I want Nova Scotians to know that the department takes its role as regulator very seriously," said Minister of Environment and Labour Mark Parent. "I welcome the opinions of the board to assure the public that my department is closely monitoring the clean-up project."

The creation of the remediation monitoring board was announced in January 2007 when an environmental assessment approval was granted to the Sydney Tar Ponds to move forward with the cleanup.

Selected to the board were chair Sinclair Dewis, retired from Environment Canada after 35 years, Edwin MacLellan, an engineering professor at Cape Breton University and Colin Hines, principal with Atlantic Environmental Training and On-Site Services Inc.

"Itís a huge project and it was certainly a big one for my department to take on," said Parent. "It was difficult (to find the right people), but we are very pleased with the people we have. "I am pleased to have highly qualified individuals that have experience in environmental auditing, emergency response, risk management and contaminated site remediation."

The board will submit an annual report to the minister of environment and labour with copies of the report being made available to the public. "We will be monitoring the department throughout the cleanup and (will) prepare an annual report highlighting the departmentís regulatory performance," said Dewis. "We look forward to advising the minister on the effectiveness of his department as a regulator on this clean-up project."

Five staff have already been hired to help the department with the regulatory role and two more be added shortly. Staff are involved in all aspects of the project, through technical review, compliance audits, use of third-party expertise and co-ordination with various federal and provincial regulatory bodies.