Progress report doesn't sound right

Letter by Faith Hall
Cape Breton Post
Mon., July 6, 2009

Tom Ayers' June 24 article about the tar ponds really confused me (Activity Not Likely to Abate as Tar ponds Cleanup Ramps up). Tanya Collier MacDonald of the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency claims the agency is halfway though the cleanup project, but I e-mailed my friend in Sydney and she tells me they haven't really started the ponds yet and the coke ovens work isn't started either.

So exactly what does she mean by halfway through? It scares me when Ms Collier MacDonald says they've spend 20 per cent of the money but have not yet started the two main projects.

Collier MacDonald also says they've generated 390 full-time equivalent jobs, and yet they haven't started the two main projects. How many of these jobs are tarponds agency jobs? They sure have an odd way of getting things done.

If I had an oil spill on my business property here in Ontario, I'd scout out the best company for the job, give it the contract and then watch it like a hawk until the job was done. By contrast, Nova Scotia sets up a whole government agency with dozens of employees to clean up the tar ponds. It doesn't sound very efficient to me.

As another example of this inefficiency, I just Googled a Cape Breton Post article from March 2007 reporting the agency announcement that Parker Donham had been removed form his post as director of communications. He wan't fired, it was described as corporate restructuring---and it should have saved the agency ( and Nova Scotia taxpayers) quite a few coins. Two years later, the position of director of communications is back, and the person in that post is the very same reporter who wrote the original Cape Breton Post article two years ago: Tanya Collier MacDonald.

You can understand why I'm more than hesitant to believe the numbers presented in the Ayers article.

Faith Hall
Sault Ste. Marie Ont.

Editor's note: The reference to the cleanup being halfway through related to the timeline. The $400 million umbrella agreement for what was described as a 10-year cleanup plan was announced in May 2004, just about five years ago. The cleanup is said to be on schedule. Engineering, construction and remediation are being done through tendered contracts under agency management. Collier MacDonald's official title is manager of communications.