SYSCO Land Separate Cleanup Issue

Picture by Dan McMullin

No Link Between High Dump, Municipality And Federal Government,
Says Traves

Cape Breton Post
Wednesday, April 9, 2003

A funding partnership to clean up Canada's worst toxic waste site only commits to cleaning up the tar ponds and coke ovens site, not contamination heaped on the neighbouring property.

John Traves, Sysco president, said "it would be nice if people wanted to pay for our problems. But Sydney Steel ran that site throughout its history and there was no link to the municipality or to the federal government that I'm aware of at this point. If it turns out that the federal government caused the contamination on the high dump I'd be happy to look at it."

He is referring to the 30 metres of uncontrolled waste disposed of at the Crown corporation's high dump since the steel plant's inception in 1901.

It has been reported that the waste includes derelict equipment, demolition debris, office waste, waste water sludge, petroleum debris, varnish, waste oil, storage tanks and other wastes of unknown quality.

In a recent request for proposals issued by Sysco, it was reported that descriptions of the high dump invariably included the phase "anything imaginable." Other process wastes such as mill scale (a carbonaceous material that flakes off the steel blooms in the reheat furnace), blast furnace flue dust, caster slag and open hearth slag were also dumped. Traves said the high dump "is what it is. It's a steel plant and a heavy industrial site that has to be cleaned up."

The Sydney Steel Corp. has issued a request for proposals to begin a Phase II environmental site assessment in May. "All we're doing now is figuring out what are the existing environmental concerns. They have to be identified first."

What will be done with the site at the end of the day is hard to say, he said. Final steps are being taken by the three levels of government and the Joint Action Group to begin remediating the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens soon. Although the projects are separate, Traves said discussion between the Crown cor poration and funding partners cleaning up the tar ponds and coke ovens is ongoing. "It's not a bunker mentality. We all work in the same sort of area. The experts talk to one another."

Mark Eyking, MP for Syd ney-Victoria, said cost-sharing the remediation of the Sysco property has not been raised by the province in Ottawa. Eyking said he'll take it upon himself to ask the government of Nova Scotia what it has planned for the property

How the Sysco property ties into the future site use of a remediated Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens should be defined, said Eyking. "I think you have to look at the whole thing." In a land-use plan and redevelopment strategy, completed for the former Sysco property, it's reported that plans include changing the indus trial land into one of the "pre mier industrial parks in the Province of Nova Scotia."

The strategy adds, business will be attracted to the area by the physical assets of the Sysco property and through a concerted marketing effort by all levels of government. It's planned that the new industry will meet environmental standards equal to those in other parts of Canada. The property will have large green areas, walking and biking trails throughout and will be considered a good place to work. The property will also keep remnants of its steel making days to serve as a reminder.

New connectors to Whitney Pier, Highway 125 and down town Sydney are also planned.