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Bodily Health, Contaminants, and the Environment: Recognizing the Dangers of Industrial Pollution in Deindustrializing Sydney, Nova Scotia

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Bodily Health, Contaminants, and the Environment: Recognizing the Dangers of Industrial Pollution in Deindustrializing Sydney, Nova Scotia

Archibald, Kristoffer (2016) Bodily Health, Contaminants, and the Environment: Recognizing the Dangers of Industrial Pollution in Deindustrializing Sydney, Nova Scotia. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Abstract

Throughout the twentieth century, the city of Sydney, Nova Scotia was home to a steel industry that polluted the air and contaminated the waterway of Muggah Creek, known in local parlance as the Tar Ponds. This dissertation examines public discourse surrounding the subject of industrial pollution in the deindustrializing city of Sydney, focusing between 1950 and 2014. It explores how diverse community interests—including those of steelworkers, local environmentalists, residents whose properties bordered the contaminated site, and members of the local business community—interpreted and responded to the pollution. The dissertation asks why industrial pollution became the object of heightened environmental and health anxieties in the late twentieth century, arguing that the corporeal impact of the pollution, within the context of the deindustrializing city, inspired an activist citizenry. For much of the twentieth century, Sydney’s industrial pollution was equated with the local steel industry and the affiliated economic stability that came with unionized work at the mill. This perspective was challenged in the 1980s when unemployed mill workers sought compensation for a host of cancers and respiratory diseases that they attributed to having worked in a polluted environment. At the same time, environmental studies revealed Muggah Creek’s troubling pollution levels. Issues of deindustrialization, environmental contamination, and health concerns intersected and sparked contentious local environmental debates. These reached their apex in the late 1990s, when a group of residents from Sydney’s Frederick Street campaigned to be relocated on the basis that contaminants in the surrounding landscape had made them ill. The dissertation examines how the various interest groups cited their environmental and bodily observations as evidence of the problems associated with exposure to industrial contaminants, expressed concern for the well-being of the local youth, argued for social justice, and noted the past’s shadow on the city’s future. “Bodily Health, Contaminants, and the Environment” concludes by examining the 2004-2014 remediation project that reconfigured the Tar Ponds into Open Hearth Park, isolated the contaminants through the use of stabilization and solidification, and sought, with mixed success, to recalibrate the public’s image of the landscape.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > History
Concordia University > Research Units > Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Archibald, Kristoffer
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:History
Date:August 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):Zilberstein, Anya
Keywords:Sydney, Nova Scotia; Sydney Tar Ponds; Muggah Creek; Sydney Steel (Sysco); industrial pollution; environmental contaminants; coke ovens; cancer; environmental activism; environmental remediation; Open Hearth Park; environmental history; ecological body
ID Code:981779
Deposited By: KRISTOFFER ARCHIBALD
Deposited On:09 Nov 2016 15:45
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:53
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