March 13, 2006

Comment period on Tar Ponds cleanup EIS elicits over 80 submissions

A public comment period on the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Sydney Tar Ponds and coke ovens sites cleanup plan generated literally hundreds of questions, the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency reported recently. The questions were contained in 55 submissions from the public, plus an additional 34 from the federal review panel that will conduct public hearings on the EIS this spring. Each submission contained multiple questions.

Frank Potter, acting CEO of the Agency, said the questions came from a broad spectrum of the public, and while many questions related to the proposal to incinerate PCB-contaminated material, many more dealt with a wide range of topics.

"It's really encouraging to see that so many people took the time to read the environmental impact statement," he said. "It shows the high level of interest people have in the cleanup. Their questions will help us refine our plan, and make it better."

Wilfred Kaiser, the Agency's acting director of environmental services, was assisted by teams from AMEC and Earth Tech, two engineering firms involved in providing support to the preparation of responses. A team of two dozen experts worked day and night, over two weeks, to answer all the questions by the March 2 deadline.

The review panel will now evaluate the responses provided by the Agency to determine whether it has enough information to proceed to panel hearings. Once the panel is satisfied it has the information it needs, it will give 21 days notice of the start of the public hearings. These hearings could begin as early as April. The panel's final report is due on June 30.

In preparation for a busy construction season in 2006, the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency recently added five new members to its staff, including two contract managers, a risk and scheduling manager, a communications officer and a library clerk.

Three projects will be carried out this summer: the cleanup of the cooling pond off Inglis Street, the construction of a barrier between the North Tar Pond and Sydney Harbour at Battery Point, and completion of the re-routing of Coke Ovens Brook, a project that began last summer. All three jobs will be completed this year.

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