Agreement allows work to resume at Domtar tank

By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Thurs., July 22, 2004

Government officials and healthcare workers have agreed on needed adjustments so work at the Domtar tank can resume.

"Everyone is comfortable," said Parker Donham, spokes person for the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency. The necessary changes will be confirmed in writing later this week and work is expected to get under way shortly after, he added. "We expect it will take a few weeks for the contractor to gear up."

Donham said there are about 1,000 tonnes of material that have to be removed from the tank before it's dismantled and taken from the coke ovens site. It's a slow process but the work will likely be completed by the end of December, he said.

The project was stalled for more than a month due to mechanical problems that caused naphthalene to escape during the cleanup. Since that time, charcoal in the air handling system was replaced and a fan was repaired. The containment structure over the tank was also sealed and the airflow system is now operating above capacity said Donham.

There will also be additional airflow tests and more precise hand-held air monitoring units added to improve safety at the site.

Along with the mechanical problems, the agency's communication system also got an overhaul.

Community complaints are now reported electronically and forwarded to three senior agency officials as well as the Environment Department, the island's medical officer of health and officials with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

The agency's communication system came under attack when residents living near the site learned it knew of the exceedance three days before the community was informed.

Air quality standards enforced throughout the tar ponds and coke ovens cleanup project are designed to detect problems early, before harmfull effects occur, said Donham.