Coke ovens site will soon have new look
Starting today, the remnants of a century
of steelmaking will be snipped,
scooped and shuffled off-site as cleanup
efforts at the coke ovens site continue.
Walter van Veen, a project management
consultant, said a crew from Joe Parsons
Contracting Ltd. in Glace Bay was hired to
cut down and remove surface debris scattered
across some 60 hectates of highly-contaminated land.
"Instead of looking like a wasteland, it
will simply look like a flat piece of property,
" van Veen told the Cape Breton Post during
a walking tour Monday. "It's amazing
what a bulldozer can do to make an ugly
piece of property look.good."
He pointed to a cement wall that once contained
a sulfur pile. It was easy to see that
over time, the material had eaten away a layer
of concrete from the wall and what
remained was an unsafe structure, easily
able to crumble to the ground.
Van Veen said the structure will be
snipped into transportable blocks and
dumped at the neighbouring Sysco property
to be used for erosion protection. The metal
will also be recycled and will likely land
Any brick laying around the site will be
picked up and used to fill holes that travel
between 15 and 20 feet and lead to tunnels
that remain below, he added. Lumber scattered
throughout the property will also be
gathered, tested and transported to a nearby
A rusted oil tank recently cleaned will
soon be chopped up and removed. A large
cooling structure used during the Benzol
plant operation will also be scrapped and
removed. In addition, concrete from what
remains of a trestle used at one time to
transport coal to the Sysco property will
also be torn down.
"You're looking at history right here,"
said van Veen. "I think some people will
For a number of coke ovens workers
employed at the site before it was closed in
the late 1980s, the property still represents
fond memories, noted van Veen.
Some reminders will be left behind. A
large, white water tank visible from Victoria
Road will remain on the property in case
it's needed during the overall cleanup, he
Two underground chambers made of
concrete that measure eight feet high, about
200 feet wide and 40 feet long will also
remain on site. About 500 feet of tunnels and
a maze of pipes that exist below the surface
will also stay.
In total, about 140 truckloads of debris
will be removed during the work, estimated
to take about eight weeks at a cost of around
$280,000. Up to 10 people and several pieces
of heavy equipment will be used.
Strict control will protect the health and
safety of workers and the surrounding community.
Realtime dust meters will monitor
air quality in the work area as well as the
site's perimeter, van Veen said. The gear will
measure fine dust as well as volatile organic
compounds such as benzene and napthalene.
Other work will include the construction
of a containment structure for the Domtar
Clean Harbors, an Ontario company, is
building a containment structure designed
to control emissions while workers remove
water, sludge and solids from the tank.