Nova Scotia

Whitney Pier residents complain of coal dust

Nova Scotia Environment is looking into several complaints about coal dust blanketing homes and cars in Sydney's Whitney Pier neighbourhood.
Wally MacKenzie shows a photo of his window sill that he took on Christmas Day. (Joan Weeks/CBC)

Nova Scotia Environment is looking into several complaints about coal dust covering homes and cars in Sydney's Whitney Pier neighbourhood.

Several people in the area say coal dust covered their properties between Dec. 23 and Dec. 25. They say it started when a boat unloaded a coal product at the Sydney International Coal Pier in high winds.

Ray Antle says he's seen dust before, but nothing like this.

"Not to this severity. It got to the front of the house and onto my step and the siding and on my deck," he told CBC News.

Two streets away, Wally MacKenzie faced a similar scene. He worries about the health effects of breathing in the dust.

"I know coal dust is coal dust, but when it comes in this great amount to blacken a whole neighbourhood with it, it's a lot of coal dust to be coming at once," MacKenzie said.

Provincial environment officials are investigating seven complaints, but say they have yet to confirm the cause.

"That's essentially the package of information that we're looking for from all of the companies in terms of what they were doing in and around that time frame," said Terry MacPherson, manager of compliance for the harbour.

MacPherson said he expects the investigation to wrap up by the middle of the month.

Companies found guilty of violating environmental regulations face fines and penalties.

Some people in the area say whoever is responsible for the dust should be required to clean their homes and cars.