Company touted by Sierra Club to dispose of tar ponds sludge out of business
By Steve MacInnis
Cape Breton Post
Wed., Sept. 1, 2004
A company touted by Sierra
Club of Canada as employing one of the best technologies
to clean up the highly toxic tar
ponds has ceased operations.
But Elizabeth May, executive director of the club, says
while the company may be out
of business, the technology is
still available and should be
included among the cleanup
options to be presented to the
"We are not prompting one
company over another but we
want to ensure that the technology used reduces health
risks to the minimum," says May.
ELI Eco Logic Inc., of
Ontario, announced last week
it was ceasing operations, laying
off its employees and selling its assets after deciding
prospects for selling the troubled company or forming a
joint venture looked bleak.
The waste treatment firm
will try to sell its technology
after laying off all employees,
except the chief financial officer,
and search for a reverse-takeover candidate.
The company had a loss of
$1.2 million last year after
selling its international subsidiary
to Bennett Environmental for $1.25 million.
According to the company's
Web site, it had developed a
broad-based, robust technology
for the treatment of hazardous wastes.
The company's process is described as an
alternative to incineration.
Frank Potter, director of
operations for the provincially
run Sydney Tar Ponds
Agency, says that while officials
with the cleanup did
meet with reps from Eco Logic,
the company was not considered to be in the running
when it came to cleaning up
the tar ponds.
"They were a promising
Canadian company but we felt
they didn't have the experience for a project this size.
They were never a contender," he says.
Type of technology still not determined
But just who will get the contract
for the cleanup and what
technology will be used still
continues to a hot subject for
The tar ponds and associated
sites were contaminated
with a host of hazardous
wastes stemming from nearly a
century of steelmaking.
Potter says his agency is
now preparing a detailed project
outline for CEAA which is
expected to be completed by
mid-October. That outline will
examine primarily two technologies - incineration and
"We are certainly pushing
and I am genuinely baffled by
the province's position of using
incineration," says May, who
rejects using incineration in
the middle of a heavily populated area.
With the federal and provincial
to $400 million for the cleanup,
May says that amount will buy
the top of the line cleanup plan
rather than the burn and bury
plan being pushed by the
Potter says the government
wants proven technologies and
notes that any cleanup effort
directly attacking the tar ponds
is still at least two years away.
Meanwhile, MPs Mark Eyking
and Rodger Cuzner met in
Sydney with various community
representatives to discuss
the cleanup. Among those
attending the meeting were
reps from the chamber of commerce,
University College of
Cape Breton and labour unions.
"These are vested groups in
the community who want to be
plugged in to what is happening,"
says Ekying, in offering
his assessment of the meeting.
He says among the main
points he took from the
discussions was that the community
does not want to see the
cleanup derailed or stalled and
issues surrounding health concerns
during a cleanup are of
Eyking says the concerns
will be brought to the attention
of the federal ministers
involved in the project - Environment and
Public Works - and that he and Cuzner will
continue to provide updates on
the project to the community.
Yet another main source for
debate is whether there will be
a comprehensive review of the
project or a convening of a full
panel review by CEAA.
May says her group wants a
panel review while the
province appears to be leaning
toward a comprehensive
review. Potter estimates that
both could take about 18
months to complete.