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Great Lakes Article:

Sludge-shipping plan 'astounds' Maritimers

Jane Sims
The London Free Press

 Nova Scotians are "astounded" hazardous waste from the Sydney tar ponds is about to be shipped to rural Lambton County, says a local MPP on a fact-finding trip to the province.

Caroline Di Cocco, Liberal MPP for Sarnia-Lambton, is expected to return today from Nova Scotia after a four-day trip to discuss the shipment of 4,000 tonnes of waste from the infamous site to the Clean Harbors Canada landfill near Corunna.

"The notion we're basically dumping untreated hazardous waste near the Great Lakes astounds them," she said.

"It's been that kind of education that has been tremendously important because they didn't know that."

The tar ponds are considered among the most toxic waste sites in Canada and elevated cancer levels have been associated with the sludge.

Di Cocco wanted to spread the word the shipments from Sydney will add to the biggest hazardous waste dump in a province where "we have the worst (environmental) rules in North America."

"They didn't know that. People thought it was going to a safe site, a site that has state-of-the-art kind of processes," Di Cocco said.

Marlene Kane, a Sydney resident and member of a committee advising the provincial government about cleaning up the tar ponds, said the shipments to Ontario are wrong.

"I don't want to see 4,000 tonnes of toxic sludge trucked over the highways out of our province into another province to be dumped untreated in a landfill," she said.

Kane said it is "irresponsible" of the Nova Scotia government to continue with the plan.

The decision was made in 1997, even though the residents on the committee wanted the sludge to remain in the province and be part of new treatments.

Ontario's environment minister has defended the shipments, saying they wouldn't be allowed if they didn't meet provincial regulations.

Chris Stockwell has said Ontario imports 31 per cent less hazardous waste than it did two years ago, a result of tougher regulations put in place by the Tories. He has insisted that if the waste was treated properly, it would not be dangerous.

Rob Cumming, a facility manager at the Lambton site, said the waste will be "solidified," or mixed with cement, to meet the criteria for the landfill. "In that sense it is pre-treated," he said.

"What takes away the risk is the landfill itself," he said. "The landfill was specifically designed to handle toxic waste like this."

The Sydney waste is "well within the normal range of materials we deal with all the time," Cumming said.

The landfill site has been in "the environmental cleanup business for over 20 years," he said.

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