Periodic monitoring isn't sufficient

Letter to the editor from Debbie Ouellette
Cape Breton Post
Sat., July 10, 2004

Please note that Debbie Ouellette's letter was edited so severly by the CB Post that we feel it lost most of its impact. Click here to read the un-edited letter by Debbie Ouellette.

Real time monitors of air quality around the tar ponds and coke ovens are the only protection we have when the stationary monitors are off, which is most of the time, yet real time monitors measure fewer chemicals than the stationary monitors and are only turned on now and then.

We should be provided with the list of chemicals that are not measured every day with hand-held monitors but are are measured once every 6 days by the stationary ones.

During working hours on the Coke Ovens and tar ponds, both stationary and hand-held monitors should be on all the time. Spot checks mean nothing.

Air monitors should be placed on homes in Ashby, the Northend and Whitney Pier, and turned on at all times when work of any kind is taking place.

I checked the stationary monitor by the Tar Ponds on those recent days when the smells were at their worst and the monitors weren’t turned on.

Sydney Tar Ponds Agency spokesman Parker Donham sees the air emissions problem with the Domtar tank as an opportunity to refine and improve all these systems. Before any contractor or consultant signs on the dotted line, these systems should already be refined. Emergency plans should be in place first, with red zones outside the fenced areas where residents would be given the choice to be compensated or moved.

We are going to be in big trouble if the choice is made to dig up and remove sludge from the Tar Ponds if contractors can't control emissions from an enclosed tank under negative pressure.

Donham says that naphthalene is a common household chemical found in mothballs and sold in Sydney stores. I called Sobeys , Super Store and Super Valu, and was told they've taken moth balls off the shelf.

Results from the air monitors should be posted for the public, showing dates, times and weather conditions.

These chemicals have many side-affects and we are feeling the affects of these smells in the air.

Debbie Ouellette
Mechanic Street, Sydney