Dissension a sign of failed process on the cleanup

Letter to editor from Bruno Marcocchio
Cape Breton Post
Thursday, July 3, 2003

It is clear with the publication of Parker Donham's memo on JAG's inept handling of the public consultations on Boularderie Island that the rats are abandoning the JAG ship. The resorting to back biting and finger pointing at the first real interaction with stakeholders when a concrete proposal was finally spelled out, shows how useless and self serving the JAG exercise has been.

Mr. Donham, the Provinces' spin-doctor, wants no public discussion of the plan. He admits government, behind closed doors, with no public input, is preparing the clean up plan. Parker's wish on the island he dares call home, is to keep the residents uninformed and disenfranchised. He wishes no public discussion of the inherent dangers of burning PCB contaminated waste in an incinerator that has been plagued with technical problems from the start. The coal from Prince mine, the reason the plant is nowhere near access by boat or rail, has been abandoned as a fuel source at Point Aconi.

The public relations strategy is that if we don't talk to the community that is about to be poisoned they may not notice that toxic waste is about to be burned in a low temperature incinerator that has been plagued with problems. If there is no public discussion perhaps no one will realize that low temperature incineration will guarantee that Boularderie Island will be contaminated with dioxin and furan. His "friend" Mark Eyking may not realize his farm will be contaminated with the most toxic compounds man has created. Perhaps Mr. Donham thinks that if no one informs his neighbors that the island is about to become a toxic dumping ground, they may not ask him any embarrassing questions about why no safe and effective solutions have been offered.

The back biting is just getting underway and should make good copy over the next while, as the project moves from the vague generalities that has allowed JAG to say and do nothing for seven years, to the reality that no acceptable solution has been considered. The first bombshell, that we need to double the cost estimated by JAG, is just the beginning. JAG blames the Tar Ponds Agency for the inaccurate estimate. The Agency and Parker Donham blame JAG and Environment Canada for promoting unrealistic options and Mr. Garth Bangay of Environment Canada calls Parkers comments dishonest and not supported by the facts.

A safe, effective, economical alternative to the unacceptable burn and bury options has been ignored by government for unknown reasons. It is time to admit that the exercise of pretending to consult has failed. Thermal desorption/hydrogen reduction is emission free and destroys all the organic contaminants, PCB and PAH, completely. As an Environment Canada employee pointed out at a recent meeting in Alder Point, a full panel review that can look at alternatives and give real public input can be completed in as little as six months.

We have a safe effective community driven solution that we can all live with. First we must stop the finger pointing that the current exercise has degenerated into and make decision-making open and public. Negotiations without meaningful public input will only result in more bad decisions and wasted money.

Bruno Marcocchio