News release

Soil Analysis Report Released

Dr. Jeff Scott, provincial medical officer of health, says a new statistical analysis of soil sampling programs supports his earlier conclusion that Sydney is as safe a place to live as any similar urban community in Nova Scotia.

"When it comes to environmental causes of ill-health, soil is one of the least likely pathways for harmful exposure," Dr. Scott said today, July 30. He and Dr. Charl Badenhorst, district medical officer of Health for Cape Breton, also offered "prudent" recommendations for limiting exposure.

They were responding to a statistical analysis that compared soil samples collected in Sydney and North Sydney with soil samples collected during the 2001 Chronic Health Risk Assessment in the neighbourhood next to the Coke Ovens.

Dr. Scott requested the analysis, carried out by JDAC Environment, a consortium of engineering companies, to see if conditions in any other Sydney neighbourhoods warranted further investigation.

North Sydney was chosen for comparison because it has a history of urban activities similar to Sydney's, but no history of steel and coke production -- which some environmentalists blame for contamination of Sydney soils.

The statistical analysis found that chemical concentrations in most of Sydney are similar to, or lower than, those in North Sydney. However, parts of the north end, Railway Street, and Victoria Road had average concentrations of some chemicals comparable to, but not higher than, the neighbourhood north of the Coke Ovens.

JDAC also looked for patterns that might show whether soil contamination was connected to fallout from SYSCO. They found no definitive correlation between industrial emissions and soil chemistry, suggesting that the soil chemicals are not due entirely to steel making operations.

Drs. Scott and Badenhorst concluded that further study of soil concentrations is not merited except in connection with on-site cleanup activities. They recommended that the district health authority continue education programs on the safe disposal of chemical sources such as ashes, and on ways to reduce intake of soil contaminants.

They recommended that the Tar Ponds cleanup be "planned and conducted to ensure that increased exposure to chemicals does not take place," and said cleanup planners should use information gathered about offsite contamination to seek "opportunities for reducing existing exposures where feasible."

Copies of the complete JDAC report, a brief summary of the report and the response of the medical officers of health, can be downloaded from the Tar Ponds website, http://gov.ns.ca/stpa/. The reports are stored in the Library section, under the subject, soil analysis.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

The provincial and Cape Breton medical officers of health say a new statistical analysis of soil samples confirms their conclusion that Sydney is a safe place to life.

Doctors Jeff Scott and Charl Badenhorst say the statistical analysis of soil sampling programs found that chemical concentrations in most of Sydney are similar to, or lower than, those in North Sydney.

Parts of the north end, Railway Street, and Victoria Road had average concentrations of some chemicals comparable to, but not above, samples collected in the neighbourhood north of the Coke Ovens during a 2001 risk assessment.

Dr. Scott says the analysis, conducted by J-D-A-C Environment, supports his earlier conclusion that Sydney is as safe a place to live as any similar urban community in Nova Scotia.

Copies of the J-D-A-C report and the response by the medical officers of health are available on the Tar Ponds website.

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Contact:

Parker Donham
Sydney Tar Ponds Agency 902-565-5555 E-mail:
jal            July 30, 2004       10:34 A.M.