Tar ponds almost ready for the big cleanup job

Cape Breton Post
By Tom Ayers
Thurs. Oct. 8, 2009

Sydney - Contractors are currently finishing work needed to divert Coke Ovens Brook and Wash Brook around the tar ponds, preparing to drain the ponds for the biggest job of all: stabilization and solidification using cement.

Donnie Burke, the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency’s project director, said Wednesday that temporary pumping stations are moving water from the brooks into ditches alongside the tar ponds and that four-foot-high pipes are in place to carry the water — which includes storm sewer drainage from heavy rains — out to Sydney harbour while the main contractor works on the tar ponds sludge.

The $15.2-million diversion contract is being completed by MB2/Beaver Marine Joint Venture.
(Correction issued 10/09/09 by Cape Breton Post: The MB2/Beaver Marine Joint Venture contract to divert water around the Sydney tar ponds is worth $37.6 million)

Burke said the main contractor, Nordly’s Environmental, is expected to begin work on the $52-million solidification contract in about two weeks, refining its mix recipe and methods that will turn the sludge into a solid mass. After that, work will shut down for the winter and will resume in the spring, when the company will begin solidification on a staged basis, moving from the south pond at Prince Street to the north pond up to the harbour over the next several years. The solidified tar ponds will eventually be capped and covered for future use.

"This fall, they’re just going to go in there and kind of hone their skills," said Burke, adding that Nordly’s Environmental has proven its ability to meet specifications, but needs to develop its process further onsite. "It is a performance-based specification ... if they don’t (meet specs), they don’t get paid," said Burke. "If something happens and these guys screw up a little bit ... we can shut them down." "As long as they meet the specifications, that’s all we’re concerned about," added agency spokesperson Tanya Collier MacDonald. "How they get there is up to them."