Agreement for tar ponds panel ready for public comment

By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Wed., June 8, 2005

SYDNEY - A draft agreement on how a three-member panel will conduct its assessment of the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens site cleanup plans is ready for public comment.

Although three weeks later than expected, the draft agreement was completed as quickly as possible, said Elise Dhaussy, spokesperson for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

The province has said it wanted guarantees that its contribution to the cleanup project wouldn’t exceed $120 million. It also wanted the review panel process to be timely.

Parker Donham, a provincial spokesperson, said he couldn’t comment on the draft now that it is in the regulatory process.

Now that the draft agreement is finalized, the provincial and federal governments will prepare a budget estimate for the panel review, with Ottawa paying 70 per cent of the cost and the province funding 30 per cent. The cost-share agreement will be finalized before the review panel is appointed.

The provincial and federal governments will also begin drafting guidelines for an environmental impact statement to be submitted by the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency - the proponent of the cleanup project. Then, nine components of the review process will take place. They are:

  • The public will have 30 days to comment on the draft guidelines for the environmental impact statement.
  • After the comment period, the parties will have 30 days to forward environmental impact statement guidelines to the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency - the proponent of the cleanup. Public comments will be considered.
  • The tar ponds agency will then develop its environmental impact statement using the guidelines and will submit the statement to the review panel by Dec. 30.
  • The tar ponds agency will then distribute the statement to the public and stakeholders to determine if more information is needed before public hearings begin.
  • All written comments provided to the tar ponds agency will be made public. The tar ponds agency has two weeks to respond to those comments.
  • If the review panel finds deficiencies in the environmental impact statement, members can request more information from the tar ponds agency.
  • Once the review panel is pleased with the information it has, public hearings will be scheduled. The public will be notified three weeks in advance of the first hearing. The public hearings will conclude after 21 days. Additional time will require approval by both parties.
  • The hearings will be held within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
  • Within 55 days of the last hearing, the review panel’s report will be submitted to the provincial and federal governments.

Once the panel’s report is complete, provincial and federal governments will consult each other and co-ordinate their decisions on the project.

The public is invited to comment on the draft panel review agreement until July 7.

The document is available for viewing at the agency’s web site at or the provincial Web site at .

It is also available at the agency’s office on Hollis Street, in Halifax, and provincial offices located on Terminal Road, in Halifax, and at 295 Charlotte St., in Sydney.

The public can also apply for $200,000 of participant funding to take part in hearings held by the review panel.

The participant funding program is coming in two phases. The first phase allocates up to $50,000 for individuals and groups planning to comment on a draft of environmental impact statement guidelines.

The second phase allows up to $150,000 for successful applicants to prepare and take part in panel hearings.

Applications for the first phase of funding must be received by June 17. Information regarding the second phase will be announced at a later date.

For more information or for application forms, go to the agency’s Web site at or contact Peter Bedrossian ( at 160 Elgin Street, 22nd floor, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0H3, or telephone (613) 957-0254 (collect calls accepted). To register as an interested party and to be kept informed of the review panel activities, provide a full mailing address, an e-mail address or fax number as applicable to Sydney Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens Review, P.O. Box 431, Sydney, NS., B1P 6H2 or e-mail to