Coke Ovens coal tar oil either hazardous or not

Letter to editor from Charles H. Andrews
Cape Breton Post
Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2003

It was with great interest that I read about the removal of coal tar oil from the coke ovens site. We are told 1,000 tonnes of coal tar oil is going to be hauled in 30 truck loads over our Trans-Canada Highway to Montreal.

A newspaper article also pointed out the many uses for this coal tar oil. Apparently this product is all around us in auto tires,in drive way sealants, in roofing compounds such as shingles, tar paper and coatings, as well as in pharmaceutical paints and cosmetics.

Well, I am certainly baffled by this whole thing! I cannot figure out if this coal tar is a toxic material or not.

If it was not toxic, just why was it necessary to spend so much time and money to enclose the Domtar tank just to remove material similar to what is being spread around us in numerous everyday products?

If it is a toxic material, just why is it being hauled on our highway where it has every chance of being involved in a toxic spill, resulting in an environmental disaster, when we could have easily shipped this material by the Cape Breton railroad that we are so desperately trying to save?

Lastly if this material is so readily present in products used everyday, why is it being hauled to Montreal to be incinerated and destroyed? This raw material alone must be worth $300,000 or more to industries that use it in their products, and this money should be returned to offset the cleanup costs for the mess in our midst.

When one looks to the rationale of this whole project, one could readily conclude that something smells here - and it is not just the coal tar.