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Phase1 - Environmental Site Assessment



Archival Documents


Several sources of published history, not necessarily environmental in nature, were reviewed at the Beaton Institute and PANS. These sources include a variety of newspaper and magazine articles, as well as petitions and miscellaneous documents.

Of particular use was the Final Report of the Skills Adjustment Study of Sydney Steel (dated September 30, 1991) prepared by the Steel Project of the Beaton Institute for Labour Canada. This document contains a lengthy chronology of the development and operation of the steel plant, compiled from various referenced sources. This chronology is used extensively in the building existence descriptions included in Section 5.0, and tabulated in Appendix D.

Another source of archival information was the collection of Sydney Steel photographs located at the Beaton Institute. While time did not permit a complete review of the extensive photographic holdings, many valuable images were located that aided in the further definition of building existence on the site. Other photographs provided information about general land use and waste disposal practices.




SYSCO Environmental File Review


A review of SYSCO's Environmental files was completed as part of the focused Phase I ESA conducted by SEACOR in July 2001. Joel MacLean, former Manager of Environment and Energy for SYSCO, provided access to the files. Mr. MacLean was also interviewed to verify information contained in the files. Interviews are discussed in Section 2.2. It is noted that the majority of SYSCO’s Environmental files identified during the course of the study post-dated 1990. The location and existence of earlier environmental files was not known. Files included in the review consist of the following:

1. Transformer and PCB File 7. SYSCO Environmental Working Group
2. Regulatory Issues and Industrial Permits 8. Dust Control Abatement
3. Environmental Progress Reports 9. Waste Management (EAF Dust Disposal)
4. Petroleum Storage Tanks 10. AIC Dump Site Reports and Facility
5. Chemical Storage File 11. Regulatory Agency Records
6. Radioactive Materials and Devices    

Relevant information derived from this file review is incorporated in the discussions provided in Section 5.0. A detailed description of file contents is provided in the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Report prepared by SEACOR in July 2001. It is noted that the majority of chemical storage information contained in these files is now outdated, following several months of site decommissioning during which large amounts of chemicals have been disposed off-site by a certified contractor.

In addition to the files, several useful drawings and plans were identified in the SYSCO Engineering Building. A site layout plan dated 1957 was obtained from a Fuel Survey Report completed by Arthur G. McKee and Company for the Dominion Iron and Steel Company Limited in August 1957. This plan provided information on the locations of storage tank, buildings, fuel lines and general land use. Although many buildings were identified on the drawing, the plan is in general not detailed with regards to scale and building configurations.

Three site drawings prepared by steel plant staff over the past 70 years were available for review at the Engineering Building. The most recent drawing is dated January 2000 and is based on a survey conducted in October 1999. An undated, but apparently earlier version of the same drawing, appears to have been created circa 1970 to 1975. The third drawing appears to date to the 1930s.

All of these drawings are produced at a scale of one inch equals 50 feet. They show high levels of detail regarding building structures and site infrastructure, although the outlines of buildings are often ill defined. Despite this, they provide a great deal of historical information due to their age and apparent accuracy. Their identical scale allows the locations of removed buildings to be easily superimposed on the modern (2000) plan.

Overall, the existing SYSCO records provided only a moderate level of specific information regarding past industrial activities at the plant. Little or no information related to industrial processing operations carried out in buildings such as the No. 1 Open Hearth or the Plate Mill exists at the SYSCO site. The majority of the discussions presented in Section 5.0 related to past operations came from archival records and interviews with former employees.




NSDEL File Review


SYSCO-related files located at the Sydney Regional office of the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour (NSDEL) office were reviewed in July 2001. Selected files were reviewed in detail, including the following:

  • Meetings(1986-1998)
  • Testing Results(1980-2001)
  • EAF Dust
  • Noise Issues(1988-1994)
  • Operations Regulations(1975-1998)
  • Permits Approvals(1986-2001)
  • Cleanup File(1988-1998)
  • News Clippings(1987-1998)
  • Modernization Project File(1981-1998)
  • Slag Issues(1981-1998)
  • PCB File(1988-1998)
  • SYSCO General Files(1979-1998)
  • Drawings and Pictures
  • Tar Burning(1986-1987)
  • Effluent Reports(1990-2001)
  • Environmental Activities(1992-1997)
  • PCB Fire(1994)
  • Certificates of Approval
  • Well Water Information

Much of the information corresponds to that contained in the SYSCO environmental files. Relevant information is incorporated in the discussion of environmental issues contained in Section 5.0. A detailed description of file contents is provided in the focused Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Report prepared by SEACOR in July 2001.


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