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Tar ponds neighbours begin tax revolt ..Two Children Test Positive for Arsenic

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  • Senior Staff
    Tar ponds neighbours begin tax revolt WebPosted Mon Jul 9 14:23:15 2001
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 9, 2001
      Tar ponds neighbours begin tax revolt
      WebPosted Mon Jul 9 14:23:15 2001

      SYDNEY - People living near the Sydney tar ponds want the government to pay their property taxes.

      Tests have shown high levels of contaminants, including arsenic and lead, in the homes and bodies of people living close to the ponds.

      Homeowners have been asking the government to clean up the toxic site and buy their properties.

      Signs of protest have dotted the neighbourhood for more than a year and now people have started a petition asking the government to pay their property taxes.

      They're fed up with what they say is a lack of responsibility on the part of any level of government and hope the tax revolt may get some action.

      Raylene Williams lives across the street from the contaminated area. She's withholding part of her property tax, paying just enough to avoid a tax sale.

      She believes she shouldn't have to pay taxes on a home with no value that cannot be sold.

      Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor John Morgan agrees. He says the provincial government should stop playing bureaucratic games with the federal government and help people.

      Written by CBC News Online staff

      INDEPTH: The Sydney Tar Ponds

      RELATED STORY: Two children near tar ponds test positive for arsenic

      SYDNEY, NOVA SCOTIA - Public health officers have found high arsenic levels in urine samples taken from two children living near the tar ponds in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

      The children, both under age five, were among 237 people tested for lead and arsenic exposure. The tests are being done to see if living near the Sydney tar ponds, or coke ovens sites, is making people sick.

      Environmental activist Peter McMullin says no one should be surprised that two children from his north end Sydney neighbourhood have elevated arsenic levels in their bodies. He says it just supports the belief of many here, that living near the tar ponds is making people sick.

      "If you look at this property ... the tar pond itself is only 600 to 700 feet away and it's been there for 100 years," he said.

      The government began testing people who live here last month after higher than normal lead and arsenic levels were found on some Sydney properties.

      Only 45 of the 237 test results are in. But in that batch two children showed higher than normal arsenic levels.

      The provincial Health Department says there is no need for urgent concern because the tests have a very low threshold. The children's parents have been asked to collect urine samples over a 24-hour period for a more detailed test.

      At the same time, public health officers are looking for the source of the problem and to see if others have been exposed.

      Allison Currie is raising her two children in the same neighbourhood and says she worries they may be exposed to arsenic. "I want my kids to grow up in a good, healthy place," she said.

      By late next week the Health Department expects to have all of the test results processed.

      Written by CBC News Online staff
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