Testing will help deal with panel concerns

By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Fri., Aug. 4, 2006

Sydney - A grimy pond once used to cool water from Sysco's rolling mills will be the testing ground for dealing with Sydney's filthy tar ponds.

Although original plans involved some pilot-testing on the cooling pond, that portion of the project was dropped in April's tender because of scheduling problems.

The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency now wants to bring the testing back and beef it up to address some concerns listed in a Joint Review Panel report released in July "In light of the panel's recommendations, we're going to take the time to make sure we get it right," said Wilf Kaiser, the agency's director of environmental services.

The panel wants testing that shows how effective solidification and stabilization will be, evidence the agency can manage air quality during excavation and that the cap and cement won't be damaged by frost.

Kaiser said the cooling pond material is thicker than tar ponds sludge and is laced with metals and hydrocarbons. As well, it doesn't have raw sewage like that settled in the tar ponds.

Kaiser described the cooling pond project as discreet and contained work that gives the agency its first opportunity to test hardening agents used to increase the bearing capacity of contaminated sediments while chemically locking contaminants in place, otherwise known as solidification and stabilization.

Revising the tender, which is the province's first aboriginal set-aside, means four competitors need to start the bidding process again. The work is expected to get underway in 2007.

The cooling pond cleanup is one of four preliminary projects expected to prevent environmental damage during the big cleanup.