Tar ponds cleanup continues to be successfully regulated

Nova Scotia Environment continues to successfully regulate the Sydney Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens Cleanup Project, according to the Remediation Monitoring Oversight Board.

By Greg McNeil
Cape Breton Post
Wed., June 29, 2011

SYDNEY - The three-member board issued its third report Wednesday following a year-long review of the project.

"They have moved from the planning stages into the let’s get it done stages," said Sinclair Dewis, a member of the three-member board.
"Just about all of their approvals are in place ... and so now it is up to the tar ponds agency to get their contracts in place, which they have done, and things are progressing quite nicely."

The latest report identified four key findings, including one on the NSE’s approach to the odour issue, which is said to be justifiable and reasonable.

Dewis said there were 49 odour-related complaints last year and about nine so far this year, so they spent "a fair bit of time" on that issue. "All of those odours, based on the information we’ve seen, are well below the criteria for the project but obviously the people think ‘if I can smell it, it’s a problem.’"

The report also noted a number of lessons were learned last season which should result in improvements in the solidification methodology.

The other key findings stated that appropriate staff and approvals are in place and NSE is adequately monitoring project components and initiating appropriate enforcement when required.

"We appreciate the work of the board to monitor our role as regulator for the cleanup of this large and complex project," said acting environment minister John MacDonell in a press release. "I’m very pleased this independent review has found that we’re doing a good job to deliver on our regulatory responsibilities."

The three-member RMOB board was created by then-provincial environment minister Mark Parent in 2008 following the federal Joint Panel Review’s environmental assessment report into the $400-million tar ponds and coke ovens cleanup.

Visit www.gov.ns.ca/nse to view a copy of their latest report.

Dewis said people are also welcome to contact them with any concerns. "We’ll follow up on those to substantiate or verify that things are going well or we’ll point out in our next report that they are not."

The board meets with project partners two to four times per year. It is expected back in Sydney later this summer or early in the fall. "Chances are things will be fairly active in terms of initiatives being carried out on the site. We’ll have a look at those and we’ll meet with Nova Scotia Environment and some of the other key partners to make sure they meet the specifications."