Information on tar ponds cleanup not readily available; freedom of information request filed

By Erin Pottie
Cape Breton Post
Wed., Aug. 6, 2008

Sydney - A concerned citizen is looking for information on the tar ponds cleanup and has found at least one recent report with missing information. She has filed a freedom of information request for another one that should have been completed seven months ago.

Marlene Kane is seeking a copy of the Tar Ponds Bench Scale Treatability report used to identify several mix recipes that may be used to treat sediment in the north and south tar ponds, which form part of the overall $400-million multi-year remediation project.

Kane said she received an email from the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency president in December 2007, which said that report should be final within the next month. The Department of Environment responded to her freedom of information application July 30, saying her request has been transferred to the tar ponds agency.

Kane is also seeking information from the agency which was left out of a recent field demonstration report related to the solidification and stabilization of the cooling pond, a project which was completed and released in April. Kane says data missing from the report relates to the mixing methodology tests for the cooling pond. These tests were used to determine a percentage of slag and cement to treat cooling pond sediment.

"The majority of technical data is missing from this report. "It's actually one of the shoddiest reports the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency has released so far," said Kane. "Samples were prepared for lab testing for unconfined compressive strength, but this report only shows the results of six of the 132 samples and only two of the 12 cells."

Kane also said lab samples for permeability and leachate testing were also completed, with no data included in the report.

Agency president Frank Potter said Tuesday he would have to check the details of the missing data, but confirmed some information is missing from the field demonstration report.

Kane is also raising questions about potential overrun costs of the $4.6-million cooling pond remediation project after water and sludge amounts were found to be higher than the original design. Potter said he would have answers to those questions today.