Engineering firm studying what can be done with Sydney tar ponds and coke
By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Fri., Feb. 9, 2007
SYDNEY - Ways to utilize the city's waste sites once they're capped is
part of a $200,000 study analysing future uses of the properties and what
role they'll play in other plans.
The engineering firm CBCL is conducting the study on behalf of five
stakeholders, which includes the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The
goal is to forward recommendations by early summer.
"In its simplest form, it's about how do we improve the transportation
network," said John Whalley, the municipality's economic development
manager. "In a more complicated form, it's about trying to figure out if
we can achieve a phased business park connecting the waterfront to the
airport and university."
The vision for the corridor starts at Harbourside Business Park built on
the former Sysco site, flows to an area for light industrial use and ends
with a technology park near Cape Breton University and Sydney airport. The
study will determine if there is merit in developing infrastructure needed
to support such an initiative. If there is merit, the next step would be
to identify the role a remediated Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens sites
will play, said Whalley.
"This is why it was so important for us to understand what could be done
on the remediated properties," said Whalley. "Do we have to avoid the
remediated properties, or can they be used? If they can be used, to what
standard can they be used? Can you put buildings on them? Could you put a
road near the properties or through the properties?"
The answers to those questions won't be available until further testing is
conducted on the solidification and stabilization technology picked to
manage the contaminated waste.
"We're hoping CBCL will provide those answers," said Whalley.
CBCL, in partnership with Earth Tech, is also working on a detailed
engineering design for the cleanup. As well, it's working with Xstrata
Coal to determine the feasibility of opening Donkin mine.
"(CBCL) has to understand what (Sydney harbour) can do and understand the
remediation work, not only on the tar ponds and coke ovens sites, but also
the Devco sites located within the corridor," he said.
Once CBCL collects data, a steering committee heading the future site use
plan will start envisioning workshops and other exercises to help
formulate recommendations. Then a feasibility study will be done on the
proposed business corridor.
Whalley said the study is in advance of any funding commitments from
government. The municipality is hoping a portion of the $400 million the
province and Ottawa allocated for the project will be directed to future
"It's not quite clear how much money, if any, is dedicated to future site
use," he said.
A recommendation from a joint review panel assessing the remediation
project called for government to fund a plan but not to finance that plan.
Whalley said once a feasibility study is complete, the committee will work
to determine where the money will come from.
"A big part of that will have to come from the municipal capital budget,
but hopefully the provincial and federal governments will also be willing
He's also hoping the Atlantic Gateway Strategy, which is focused on the
Port of Halifax and the Strait of Canso Superport, will make room for the
Port of Sydney.
The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, Nova Scotia Lands Corp., Public Works and
Government Services of Canada, Cape Breton Development Corp. and the
municipality shared the study's cost.