Sat., Aug. 18, 2007 Link To Herald The Halifax Herald Limited

Tar ponds agency seeks aboriginal contractors

First Nations contractors have an opportunity to help clean up the Sydney tar ponds.

The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency is seeking standing offers from eligible aboriginal contractors to clean up the former Sydney steel plantís cooling pond, a testing ground for processes to cleanse the tar ponds.

The set-aside project gives bidders with majority aboriginal ownership and control the ability to benefit from cleanup work and to gain skills and training needed to compete for other construction projects.

Companies with at least 51 per cent aboriginal ownership and control are eligible. In addition, if a bidder has more than five full-time employees, at least one-third of them must be aboriginal.

"This is the first aboriginal set-aside for the province of Nova Scotia and we are looking forward to having an opportunity to do some of the cleanup work," Dan Christmas, senior adviser for the Membertou First Nation, said in a release. "Hopefully this will be a stepping stone for future work as the project progresses."

Frank Potter, president of tar ponds agency, said the successful bidders "will work alongside experts in the field of environmental remediation. They will have the opportunity to build partnerships that strengthen their ability to compete for other projects across Canada and beyond.

The cooling pond was used to cool water for Syscoís rolling mills. The project will give engineers a testing ground to assess solidification and stabilization plans considered for the tar ponds and coke ovens.

Work is expected to begin this fall and be completed by spring.