Areas on tar ponds site sinking

By Erin Pottie
Cape Breton Post
Mon., Aug. 25, 2008

Sydney - Two ground areas associated with the Sydney tar ponds are sinking and officials associated with the cleanup arenít sure why.

Sydney Tar Ponds Agency outgoing president Frank Potter said he believes two spots near the cooling pond have sunken as a result of melted winter ice, which was present during the final stages of the solidification and stabilization of the project. "We think part of it was there was some ice all around the cooling pond at the time that the work was getting completed. Some of the settling is, we think, just the ice that was probably buried over at the time," he said.

Agency communications officer Tanya Collier MacDonald said the weather has been so miserable in the last few weeks they havenít been able to investigate the areas. "They havenít really been able to investigate it enough to give it a definite cause. They are monitoring it and watching it and theyíll likely do more investigating," she said.

Concerned citizen Marlene Kane was walking by the area between the Inglis Street and the south tar pond a few weeks ago when she noticed the sinking. "There must be a problem there with the work theyíve done on the cooling pond because now itís kind of sunk in. I donít know whatís going on. There are large areas that are taped of with yellow tape and they donít have grass on them anymore," she said. The two slumped spots are not located within the cooling pond itself.

The Sydney cooling pond located on Inglis Street was once used to cool water once by Syscoís rolling mills. It consisted of a man-made, circular body of water and sludge.

The $4.6-million project began by draining three million gallon of water ó about 250,000 gallons daily ó out of the cooling pond to expose sludge spread along the bottom of the pond. The water was pumped to a facility on the former Sysco site for treatment. A mixture of cement and slag was then used to solidify and stablize the cooling pond. The project was completed with the addition of hydroseeding the capped area. It is now a small, circular piece of property adjacent to the south tar pond. As the grass grows, the former cooling pond will disappear into the landscape.

MacDonald said she believes the settling wonít be fixed until early September. She said the ground is too mucky for equipment crews to carry out any repairs and said the agency is not too concerned about the sinking.