Posted by: fluoride | September 22, 2010

Solidification and Stabilization COVERUP

*  See latest pictures – Tar Ponds flood during SS – December 2010

See latest videos at   (2010)   (2011)   (2011)

*  See another video below

The North and South Tar Ponds, located in downtown Sydney, N.S., is a tidal estuary which flows into Sydney Harbour.  This estuary contains approximately 700,000 tonnes of sludge contaminated with PCBs, PAHs, semi-volatiles, metals (lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, etc.) petroleum hydrocarbons, BTEX, HNCs and dioxins/furans.

This contamination was responsible for the indefinite closure of the lobster fishery in the South Arm of Sydney Harbour in 1982 when fisheries scientists found PAHs from the Tar Ponds in Sydney Harbour lobsters.

Despite a recommendation in a report commissioned by government in 1994 to immediately install a weir at the mouth of the North Pond to eliminate tidal flushing which would then reduce the flow of contaminated sediments to the harbour, government did nothing.  Twelve years later,  in 2006, a barrier was constructed across the mouth of the North Pond “to protect Sydney Harbour from further pollution as the big cleanup proceeds.”  A 50-metre opening was left in the barrier to accommodate a water channel which will run through the Tar Ponds by 2014.

Government’s plan, now underway, to remediate the tar ponds has been promoted as a ‘cleanup’.  It consists of mixing over 100,000 tonnes of dry cement powder into 700,000 tonnes of toxic waste insitu using an excavator.   All of this contamination will be buried in place and capped.

We call this plan a COVERUP as not one molecule of contamination will be cleaned up, including 50,000 tonnes of PCB-impacted sediments.

This crude process of mixing cement powder with hazardous waste is called Solidification and Stabilization (SS) and its purpose is to provide increased structural strength for capping and to decrease the mobility of contaminants. However, concerns have been raised regarding its long term efficacy as well as its effectiveness on organic sediments.  The problem is that the tar ponds sediment is high in organics.

Will this mixing of cement powder with tar ponds sludge turn into a low permeable concrete mass as described by the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency?

Nowhere close to concrete.  The unconfined compressive strength (UCS) of sidewalk concrete is about 3500 pounds per square inch (psi)The minimum UCS requirement for the toxic waste in the tar ponds following SS is a mere 25 psi, reduced from 50 psi, and some areas have already failed to meet that minimum requirement following SS.    We’ve also seen instances where the UCS gets weaker over time instead of stronger.  Unfortunately, due to the Nova Scotia Environment Department’s lax criteria, the UCS need only be tested once and never again, so if there is a weakening trend and/or degradation of this SS toxic waste, we’ll never know, especially once it’s buried under a cap comprised of one million tonnes of trucked-in materials.

Some test results have also shown an increase in contaminant leaching instead of a decrease following SS of this hazardous waste, and some contaminants not leaching prior to SS began leaching following SS.  To accommodate this increase in contaminant leaching, the N.S. Environment Department allows the leachate following SS treatment to be 500 times greater than the leachate before SS treatment, providing it doesn’t exceed site criteria.  So while the purpose of SS is to reduce contaminant leaching, it’s actually having the opposite effect on some contaminants in this high-organic sludge.  To make matters worse, the NSE department only requires there be one leachate test for every one thousand  tonnes of SS treated sludge. To put that number in perspective, that works out to be one leachate test for every 66 dump trucks (15 tons each) full of toxic waste. Far from being protective.

Following an extensive government-led consultation process with the community, from 1996 to 2003, to determine acceptable solutions for the remediation of the Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens sites, the community called for removal and destruction technologies to clean up the sites once and for all.  This solution was completely ignored by governments and they are now proceeding to waste hundreds of millions of dollars in a ‘cleanup’ that cleans up nothing.

View the video below to see how this COVERUP is carried out.


In the Sydney Tar Ponds Cleanup Times June 2010 newsletter, there is an aerial photograph of Solidification and Stabilization (SS) work in the south pond.  SS involves mixing over 100,000 tonnes of cement powder with 700,000 tonnes of hazardous waste, referred to by government as a ‘cleanup’.  To minimize the dust created by mixing dry cement powder with toxic sludge using an excavator bucket, workers spray the work area continuously.  STPA’s aerial picture shows a cloud of dust around the excavator, which they describe as water vapor.  View our video below and you will see just how much is cement dust and how little is water vapor.  They obviously cannot control the dust generated by this crude activity, nor can they control the choking stench wafting through our community.  While the amount of cement added to each cell must be precise, it’s clear to see just how much of it is blown away into the community.  So much for that recipe.

The excavator begins mixing 30 seconds into the video.

Rotten stench in Sydney, Nova Scotia

“Change in wind the only help on offer to deal with tar ponds odours”

See latest Letter July 5, 2010 posted under Pages – Air Monitoring articles to the right

Scroll down to view other articles

Posted by: fluoride | April 9, 2010

Dust control? Is this the best they can do?

Despite repeated requests from residents, the federal and provincial governments decided it wasn’t necessary to conduct  SS work under an enclosure with air filters to protect the neighborhoods adjacent to the tar ponds site.  Governments and consultants assured us that by using water and foam they could control the toxic emissions and dust which result from mixing dry cement powder with hazardous waste in the tar ponds, which contain 700,000 tonnes of sludge contaminated with PAHs, PCBs, heavy metals, VOCs, etc.  Obviously they can’t do as promised because the stench leaving the site into the surrounding community is overpowering, along with clouds of dust.  When we took this picture on Easter Monday, 2010, we were across the street from the grocery store and the local mall.  Homes are located on the other side of the black pipe and fence on the left side of this picture, which is the west side of the Tar Ponds.  Real time air monitors located around the site detected none of these emissions.

This picture was taken on a different day.  Obviously dust control hasn’t improved. In fact, every day they carry out SS work, this is what we see.  Delivering the cement in a slurry (mixed with water) rather than a powder would certainly eliminate the cement dust issue.  The homes in the background of this picture are on the east side of the South Tar Pond.

The horrible stench coming from this site, whether they’re working on it or not, is with us 24-7, now that this site has been disturbed.  The only relief residents get is when the wind changes direction, and then another area of the community is affected.

Posted by: fluoride | March 26, 2010

Community Liaison Committee

Concerned residents and the media are not permitted to attend the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency’s monthly CLC meeting, even though STPA boasts openness and transparency.  Only a small number of hand-picked representatives of certain organizations are permitted to attend.  Not even those residents living adjacent to the Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens sites can attend these meetings.  What are they hiding behind closed doors?

Posted by: fluoride | September 12, 2009

Community Liaison Committee (CLC)

Believe it or not, STPA still has not announced the new members of the CLC despite the fact that applications were called for on March 30, 2009.meeting-cartoon1 Dan McMullin has requested a list of the new members no less than 4 times (both verbally and by email) and has yet to get an adequate answer to his simple question.  Maybe STPA is having trouble finding a replacement for the Joint Action Group who withdrew from the CLC a number of months back.  Meantime Sierra Club has applied no less than 4 times!

Posted by: fluoride | September 12, 2009

Intercolonial St. Residents Worried About Cleanup

Wayne McKay, former NDP candidate for CB South, library_wayne(pictured  at far right of picture) convened a 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday, Aug. 11 at the McConnell Memorial Library in Sydney to discuss air quality and other concerns of Sydney’s North End residents. The group of 25 was apparently stood-up by crown agency official Gary Campbell – the very man who arranged for the meeting in the first place.

So far, STPA has answered some questions, but not adequately. Residents have begun submitting supplementary questions and are hoping for a quick turnaround on the first 4 questions.

Posted by: fluoride | April 28, 2008

Rick Mercer Report : Save the Sydney Tar Ponds

Rick Mercer’s infamous “tongue-in-cheek” skit on visiting the Sydney Tar Ponds with his son Johnny.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from posted with vodpod

Posted by: fluoride | April 28, 2008

G Fred Lee on Solidification/Stabilization 2 of 2

Part 2 of G. Fred Lee’s analysis of the effectiveness of S/S technologies at the Sydney Tar Ponds

Vodpod videos no longer available. from posted with vodpod

Posted by: fluoride | April 28, 2008

G Fred Lee on Solidification/Stabilization 1 of 2

Dr. G. Fred Lee is a US expert on Landfills, solidification and stabilization – technologies currently in use at the Sydney Tar Ponds

Vodpod videos no longer available. from posted with vodpod

Posted by: fluoride | April 26, 2008

Tar Ponds Update

We’re going to keep you up to date on what’s going on on the Sydney Tar Ponds site with pictures, emails, comments, etc. Feel free to Join in , ask questions or just read our updates.