Province urges Ottawa to start cleanup

Cape Breton Post
Mon., Mar. 29, 2004

SYDNEY - Energy Minister Cecil Clarke is urging the Government of Canada to join the province in an immediate start to the tar ponds and coke ovens cleanup.

Clarke was responding to a statement federal Environment Minister David Anderson released Saturday, taking issue with provincial arguments for a 70-30, federal- provincial sharing of cleanup costs. "We're confident of the evidence supporting a 70-30 cost split," Clarke said. "But the real question is whether Ottawa is ready to begin the cleanup now. "Nova Scotia has put its money on the table, and we're ready to start now," said Clarke. "The tar ponds have been studied to death. It's time to clean them up."

Clarke said evidence supporting a 70-30 sharing of costs was sufficient on two previous occasions - in 1986, when Ottawa and Nova Scotia embarked on an unsuccessful project to dig up tar ponds sediment and burn it in an incinerator, and in 1999, when the two governments signed an agreement on preliminary cleanup projects. "Everyone agrees this is a national priority," Clarke said. "If 70-30 made sense then, why doesn't it make sense today?"

Most of the tar ponds and more than 85 percent of the most serious contaminants they contain, belong to the federal government.

On the coke ovens site, a tar cell containing 25,000 tonnes of concentrated contaminants was created during the 1960s and 1970s, when the Government of Canada owned and operated the coke ovens through its coal mining subsidiary, the Cape Breton Development Corporation.