Future home of Domtar tank goop remains a mystery

By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Fri., July 29, 2005

Why 1,500 tonnes of goop sucked but of the Domtar tank remains in Sydney is anyone's guess.

Rail cars filled with coal tar emptied from the tank are at the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railyard waiting for proper disposal.

Contractor Clean Harbors Canada Inc. and the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency had little to say when contacted by the Cape Breton Post, Thursday.

Parker Donham, agency spokesperson, said the holdup revolves around what's going to happen to the material. The agency has stipulated that only Clean Harbors can dispose of the material, he said. Other than that, Donham referred comment to the contractor.

Brian Lamontagne, project manager at Clean Harbors, said his contract with the agency prevents him from commenting on the project. "I can't discuss it." Lamontagne then referred comment to the agency.

In June, the agency said it's working with Clean Harbors to establish a firm timetable for completing the work. Nothing has changed since that time.

Work began on the Domtar tank in the summer of 2003. It was supposed to be completed that fall. However, a slew of problems plagued the project.

In October 2003, it was reported that a bunch of junk mixed with the coal tar was botching up the work. The project was stalled several times to clear debris from screens covering pumps sucking out the material.

The contractor started work again in the summer of 2004, but had to stop when unacceptable levels of naphthalene reached nearby communities. Clean Harbors volunteered to stop work until the odour issue was resolved. Activated charcoal filters were added and an exhaust fan was fixed.

The agency also improved its communication system to keep nearby communities better informed. By August 2004, work started again.

Within a month, the project stopped twice so the contractor could make changes to an air filter and during windy weather. It was halted again in December of that year.

In May, residents were told the work would be completed by the end of that month.