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Study says Cape Breton tar ponds unsafe.

The Sierra Club of Canada has released a new report that undermines the validity of the Nova Scotia government's decision last year to allow residents to continue living near a highly contaminated former industrial area in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

The report, entitled Review of the Human Health Risk Assessment of the Frederick Street Area, was conducted by the highly respected International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH) and was commissioned by the Sierra Club.

Frederick Street borders on 126 acres of what is known as the coke ovens site. Here soils are contaminated to depths of 80 feet. Over 160 km of eroding, underground pipes contain some of the most toxic chemicals known to man. There are 17 homes on Frederick Street. The only thing separating the extensively contaminated area and Frederick Street is a brook and a new three-metre-high chain link fence with a sign that reads: "Human Health Hazard."

"The provincial government has relied solely on the CANTOX `risk assessment' in order to maintain an untenable position that the residents of Frederick Street are at no risk from the high levels of toxic contamination around them," says Elizabeth May, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "With the results of the review of the CANTOX risk assessment by Roger Dixon and Dr. Rosalie Bertell, it is obvious that the CANTOX risk assessment is woefully inadequate and is not a legitimate basis for the decision that the residents of Frederick Street are at no risk. It is now time to make sure that safety comes first and the residents of Frederick Street are evacuated immediately."

"Neither the Chief Medical Officer nor CANTOX have provided convincing evidence that the Frederick Street residents are not in danger, therefore the only reasonable conclusion is to implement the precautionary principal and evacuate the residents," says president of the IICPH, Dr. Rosalie Bertell.

Last summer two toxic events shocked residents of Frederick Street. The Frederick Street brook started to bleed an orange "goo" from its banks. Later in the summer, a 30-foot-long tar-like substance, which emitted a strong smell and made residents eyes water, was discovered bubbling out of the ground.

Bradford Duplisea, Toxics Coordinator for the Sierra Club says, "It's time for Premier Russell MacLellan to do the right thing. The health of his constituents should come before anything else, including the health of provincial coffers."

Juanita MacKenzie, a resident of Frederick Street says, "I'm really scared. I want out before the ground thaws and things start happening all over again."

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Publication:Natural Life
Date:Mar 1, 1999
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