On site incinerator unacceptable for cleanup

Letter to editor from Jim MacLeod
Cape Breton Post
Saturday, June 21, 2003

In a June l3 article in Cape Breton Post, the executive director of the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, Gary Campbell, is quoted as saying that if other communities with incineration facilities object to the burning of the contaminated material from the tar ponds or coke oven sites, the obvious option is that "you deal with it on site"
(Convincing Communities to Deal with Tar Ponds Sludge May Be Difficult: Official).

He continues, in response to a question posed by the Post's Tanya Collier MacDonald, by stating that one of the alternatives available is using the twin fluidized bed incinerator built in the early 1990s to burn the tar pond sludge.

In fairness, Campbell also clearly stated that a decision would not be made to use a facility that would endanger anybody's health. It is unclear what body would be responsible for making such an assessment.

On behalf of the citizens of the community of Whitney Pier, I feel I must state unequivocally that burning the contaminated material on site is not an option. Surely this is an obvious conclusion, given the proximity of homes, a school and businesses to the incinerator owned by the Government of Nova Scotia through Sydney Environmental Resources Ltd.

Why, then, is Campbell floating this idea? After so much time and effort has been invested on this issue in building trust and confidence that community opinion is valued, is it possible that the strategy being followed by the senior levels of government is to dismantle the community organization that has been leading the effort to remediate the sites and then to impose a solution on our community?

I certainly hope not. I hope this was simply an off-handed comment by Campbell.

I have received a considerable number of calls from residents,and in no uncertain terms 99 per cent of them do not support burning on site at the SERL incinerator.

I recognize that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia have a significant amount of money invested in the SERL incinerator. However, it is my opinion that its current location absolutely excludes this facility as a reasonable option for the treatment of any contaminated materials from the tar ponds or coke ovens sites.

Jim MacLeod
Deputy Mayor,
Cape Breton Regional Municipality