News Release Archive

  The remediation of the Sydney tar ponds site is changing
  direction. Sydney Tar Ponds Clean-up Inc. has recommended to
  government that the tar ponds be permanently contained and
  sediment not be incinerated, Supply and Services Minister
  Gerald O'Malley announced today.
  "We asked the private sector for proposals to complete the
  tar ponds clean-up, either through incineration or any other
  means of equal quality or effectiveness," Mr. O'Malley said
  in Sydney today. "Some of the world's leading engineering
  firms responded to this call and their estimates to continue
  with incineration were staggering."
  "The lowest estimate we received was for $120 million over
  eight years, or roughly the equivalent of the budget for
  three of Cape Breton's largest school boards," Mr. O'Malley
  said. "To continue with incineration at this cost would have
  been irresponsible, and indeed, impossible."
  Instead, Cabinet has approved a STPCI recommendation to
  accept a proposal from Jacques Whitford Environmental Ltd.
  and International Technologies Corp. to design and construct
  a containment system that will secure the tar ponds. The
  cost of the contract is $20.4 million and government may
  cancel at any time with 30 days notice. There are
  approximately 700,000 tonnes of contaminated sediment in the
  tar ponds.
  Jacques Whitford of Dartmouth is one of Canada's leading
  environmental engineering firms and International
  Technologies of Pennsylvania is among the world's largest
  and most experienced remediation contractors. Their proposal
  is to develop a containment system of slag, topsoil and
  grass based on extensive hydrogeologic and topographic
  Two brooks that currently empty into the tar ponds before
  entering Sydney Harbour will be channelled directly into the
  harbour. A number of municipal sewage outfalls that also
  empty into the tar ponds before entering the harbour will be
  similarly treated.
  The first priority is to determine the extent of high-level
  PCBs in the tar ponds. An options report is being prepared
  as part of the contract and "the report is being prepared
  with a view to transporting high level PCB sediment out of
  the province," Mr. O'Malley said. "We will, however, keep
  the door open to any other option that the contractor may
  The minister said that the proposal will be registered with
  the appropriate environmental authorities for assessment.
  Once approval is obtained, the project should be complete
  within 18-24 months. The Crown corporation will be asked to
  investigate options for the future of the incinerators. The
  13 unionized staff will be retained to ensure the
  incinerators are maintained.
  "I am very concerned about some of the decisions that were
  made before the project was turned over to STPCI," Mr.
  O'Malley said. "I have ordered an internal review of the
  decision making process since this project's conception
  under the previous government. A solicitor from the
  Department of Justice has been seconded to lead this
  "Today represents a positive step forward towards the
  remediation of the Sydney tar ponds. Instead of being an
  environmental blight, there is finally the prospect of this
  land area serving a useful and positive role in the
  community," the minister said.
  Contact: David MacNeil  902-499-2716
  trp                       Jan. 15, 1996