The Sydney Tar Ponds are the most toxic hazardous waste site in North America, located in Cape Breton. These tar ponds were caused essentially from a century of steel making, polluting it with high levels of PCB, mercury, lead and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. This was first discovered in 1980 by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Sydney Harbor, which resulted in a period of events and frustrations for both the government and residents. In1982 lobster fisheries were all closed down due to contamination, this made residents mad because this was many peoples main source of work and it was a very popular food in the area.In 1998 residents began to complain of toxic ooze seeping into their cellars; this eventually led to the promise of Premier John Hamm that he would stop government subsidies to the Sysco Plant.
The Sysco plant was then closed. Residents are still mad; the public health officers test 237 people for lead and arsenic exposure, 45 were reported and two children were found to have high levels of lead and arsenic in their urine. Also Health Canada proves that there is 17 more deaths a year due to the Tar Ponds.The government has taken many steps to try and get rid of these tar ponds along with the help of JAG (Joint Action Group). In August, 2001, DTPW set up the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency (STPA) to coordinate and help lead the project.
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They have debated burying the ponds, washing them out and burning them. In 2004 a 10-year, $400 million dollar deal to clean up the Tar Ponds. In 2007 the final plan is announced by the government, to bury the Tar Ponds. This is estimated to take up to 8 years; the Tar Ponds are still being cleared.