Authorities failing to protect health

Letter to the editor from Neila MacQueen
Cape Breton Post
Thurs., June 10, 2004

I believe every individual -- regardless of race, religion, national or ethnic origin, colour, sex or mental ability is equal before the law and enjoys equal protection and benefit of living in an environment that is clean and acceptable to mankind, not making anyone a victim of uncontrollable circumstances.

In my heart I felt the environment and health departments would protect us from harm from the deadly contaminants being emitted into the air for us to breathe from the tar ponds and coke ovens area.

A British medical journal stated in an editorial that the weight of evidence now suggests environmental factors, as opposed to genetic ones, are primarily responsible for perhaps 70 to 80 per cent of human cancers.

Unfortunately, I fit into this classification: I have lung cancer and am surrounded by many residents with cancer and respiratory illness in the area of the northend, coke ovens, and Ashby - all in close proximity to the tar ponds with 50,000 tonnes of PCB-contaminated material and raw sewage running in every day.

We have been exposed to unaccpetable levels of naphthalene, which is a very flammable liquid, and I believe there are many more unforeseen contaminants.

This is not acceptable. The authorities knowingly put the people of Sydney at risk. Large companies were allowed to come in here and overpower the people. It would be nice to know the cleanup work will continue in a manner acceptable to us, our community and our children -- the future generation.

Neila MacQueen
Dorchester Street, Sydney