Friday, March 04, 2005

Copy, edit and email the following letter to

Mr. Scott Brison
Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada
PO Box 1280, Station A
Sydney, Nova Scotia
B1P 6J9

Dear Hon. Scott Brison,

Please stop the incineration of toxic sludge from the tar ponds in Sydney, Cape Breton Island. I oppose the incineration of PCB-laden tar ponds sludge because:

- No incinerators are available that safely destroy PCBs

- Incomplete combustion of PCBs produces dioxins and furans, among the most deadly toxic materials known

- All incinerators fail regularly, producing what is called an “upset condition”

- During upset conditions, incinerators emit large quantities of pollutants to the surrounding land

- Incinerators produce concentrated toxic ash which must be disposed of in an expensive hazardous waste landfill

- Both of Canada’s toxic waste incinerators have failed, polluting surrounding communities with dioxins and furans. A third incinerator, in Belledune, New Brunswick, has met with fierce community opposition and has not yet completed a test-burn.

- The Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s biomedical waste incinerator has failed dioxin emissions tests 3 of the last 4 years. The provincial government has failed to protect the people, and will continue to approve the use of this dangerous incinerator for at least another year.

- “Burn and bury” was the community’s least preferred remediation option, as reported by the Joint Action Committee’s community workbook exercise.

- The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency has admitted that using a temporary or mobile incinerator will allow them to operate under less stringent environmental regulations.

- Safe, effective and affordable options are being ignored by the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency

I prefer proven, non-incineration technologies to clean up the Sydney Tar Ponds without further delay. Remediation options proposed by the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency would see only PCB hot spots treated, while the bulk of the toxic waste would be covered up. This “burn and bury” approach has been soundly rejected by local residents who want the toxic sludge dug up and safely destroyed once and for all. Other proven options exist and were laid out by the Joint Action Group’s process and presented to residents as “Option 3.” Residents rated option 3 as their preferred choice.

Recent delays by the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency were clearly avoidable. I suggest the following approach to move the process along without further delay:

- Initiate immediately a full panel review and re-route the Coke Ovens Brook, remove the cooling pond, relocate the Victoria Road water main, and build a cofferdam at Battery Point.

- Move nearby residents out of harms way. Set up a 300 m buffer zone to protect the health of those outside the fence. Move nearby residents during the cleanup, and offer them a voluntary buyout.

- Use Soil Washing and Hydrogen Reduction to remediate the tar ponds sludge (JAG option 3). A train of technologies featuring Soil Washing, Thermal Desorption and GPCR could safely and effectively clean all the tar ponds waste, not just a small fraction of it as currently proposed. A soil-washing company called TDEnviro claims the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency’s estimate of $1 Billion for option 3 is far too high. They have guaranteed the Nova Scotia government a price of $393 million. Only a panel review can verify their claim.

There is a massive weight of evidence to show that incinerators are damaging people’s health. Those within the fallout zone, up to 7.5 km around the incinerator, are most affected. However, the effects are even more far reaching. After incineration, the solid waste consisting of heavy-metals-contaminated ash is dumped on special landfill sites and may find its way into our water systems over time.

PCB incinerators produce high levels of dioxins. Many heavy metals and very fine particulate matter may lodge in lungs of animals and people, and can not be removed by the natural defence mechanisms of a body. Grazing animals are most heavily affected.

The dioxins emitted by incinerators have been shown to lead to infertility, birth defects, cancers, heart disease, and respiratory problems in humans.

Nova Scotia has only one active incinerator in Sydney. This plant disposes of domestic waste as well as toxic medical waste for the entire province. This incinerator still operates, even though it has failed its dioxin emission tests 3 out of the last 4 years.


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