Decision on cleanup delayed until January

By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Thurs. Dec. 21, 2006

SYDNEY - Governments won't announce until January how the tar ponds and coke ovens sites cleanup will be managed.

Bill Turpin, spokesperson for the Department of Environment and Labour, said the small delay shouldn't be a concern. "Everything is going fine," he said.

Provincial and federal governments said the announcement would come by the end of December, but were unable to reach that date. The extension comes as pressure builds in Ottawa regarding the environment file.

Under heavy criticism for climate change plans, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the environment is now among his top priorities. One of his first changes could be the department's minister. Recent reports say Harper will replace Environment Minister Rona Ambrose.

The new minister's first job could be signing a cost-share agreement with the province to get Cape Breton's long-awaited $400 million environmental project on the go. The agreement follows an intense public consultation process directed by a three-member joint review panel that ended in May. The panel made a multitude of recommendations and forwarded them to both provincial and federal governments for consideration.

Some of the recommendations governments continue to consider are that all stakeholders, including the public, be prepared to manage the project indefinitely. As well, further pilot-studies should be performed on proposed solidification and stabilization technologies before they're applied to the tar ponds. And, the panel asked government to weigh the incineration of PCBs in the tar ponds against simply managing them in place.