Federal decision for panel review 'disappointing'

Letter by Gerald Keddy, MP
Cape Breton Post
Mon., May 23, 2005

At the beginning of May the federal government ordered a full, independent environmental review of the plan to burn sediments from the toxic sites at Sydney. The review has to be completed by June 2006 and the cost of cleanup cannot exceed the $400 million already set aside for the project.

It is not clear at all how these targets will be maintained. How can the government ensure this independent review panel meets these parameters?

This was disappointing news because the review will entail further delays to clean up the Sydney tar ponds. The tar ponds were identified as a serious environmental issue in the early 1980s and still remain to be cleaned up.

Residents of Sydney, indeed all Nova Scotians, have been concerned about the health and environmental risks of the tar ponds. In short, this has been going on for far too long and there should be no further delays.

This issue has been studied extensively and it is time for action. Hundreds of reports have been completed and scores of public meetings have been held.

I do not in any way underestimate the complexity of this file because solutions are not easy and cleanup is costly. Still, the Liberals have dragged their feet on cleaning up the tar ponds and seem to talk about it only when an election is on the horizon.

The Liberals have repeatedly used the tar ponds as an excuse to make political funding announcements. The Conservative Party would take a different approach. At the Conservative Party policy convention in Montreal in March, the party committed to cleaning up Canada's worst-contaminated sites and providing stable, long-term funding for these cleanups.

It is time for less talk and fewer announcements and more action.

Gerald Keddy, MP
South Shore-St. Margaret's