Source of Port Mait­land pol­lu­tion re­mains un­known

En­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neer says sewer treat­ment plant not the cause


The source for sewage pol­lu­tion that some Port Mait­land, Yar­mouth County res­i­dents say they’ve seen in the har­bour and on the beach re­mains un­known.

In re­sponse to claims that the sewage treat­ment plant for the area is the source, the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Yar­mouth held an open house at the fire hall on Nov. 19 with videos, tours of the plant, pho­tos of the treat­ment process and a pre­sen­ta­tion by Tom Austin, a se­nior en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neer with ABL En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­sul­tants Ltd.

Austin pre­sented a de­tailed ac­count of the plant’s de­sign and tech­nol­ogy. In his fi­nal re­marks, he said the plant is as good as any plant any­where and that it’s bet­ter than most plants.

“This plant is work­ing, it’s work­ing the way it should work. It’s do­ing the job it should do.”

Kent Smith, a res­i­dent of the area for at least 60 years and care­taker for the Port Mait­land provin­cial park, dis­agreed with the in­for­ma­tion pre­sented.

“I’ve ob­served the over­flow com­ing out of the pipe. I’ve seen de­bris on the beach, dead lob­sters. I’ve seen dead birds. Can you ex­plain this to me?”

Austin replied, “Just be­cause you see a dead lob­ster or a dead bird doesn’t mean the treat­ment plant is the source of it.”

Smith that his grand­chil­dren walk the beach and go in the wa­ter and this sum­mer one of his grand­daugh­ters had sores all over her back af­ter do­ing so.

In mid-Oc­to­ber, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity fa­cil­i­tated a multi-gov­ern­men­tal con­fer­ence call with fed­eral and provin­cial de­part­ments to dis­cuss the is­sue.

Vic­to­ria Brooks, CAO for the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Yar­mouth, says the mu­nic­i­pal­ity has no author­ity, no leg­isla­tive power, to im­pact what they (other govern­ment agen­cies) do or don’t do.

“We’ve done what we were asked to do. We’ve writ­ten the let­ters we were asked to write. Now we have to wait for the re­sponses,” she said.

“We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to make sure our plant, your plant, op­er­ates prop­erly, that the dis­charge from your homes is not the

cause of the prob­lem. That’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to you. That’s what we’re do­ing.”

War­den Le­land An­thony says the govern­ment agen­cies may get back to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity next month or as late as next sum­mer.

“This wasn’t the only area in Nova Sco­tia that had (beach pol­lu­tion) is­sues this sum­mer. I per­son­ally be­lieve it was our hot sum­mer.”

Bill Curry owns 900 feet of the beach next to the park.

“When you say, ‘they’ll get back to us next sum­mer,’ I’m sorry, that’s not good enough for me,” he said.

Brooks added the cit­i­zens of Port Mait­land have ev­ery right to or­ga­nize and lobby along­side the mu­nic­i­pal­ity by con­tact­ing their MLA and mem­ber of Par­lia­ment.

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