Companies competing for largest contract of tar ponds cleanup

Cape Breton Post
John McNeil
Wed. Jan. 21, 2009

Sydney - Companies competing to land the biggest contract of the tar ponds cleanup met Tuesday to gather information about the project and explore forging partnerships to secure the successful bid.

About 70 people representing more than 40 companies attended a meeting at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre to learn more about the $50-million solidification and stabilization contract for the Sydney tar ponds. The successful contractor must prove it can mix solidifying ingredients into the toxic waste to harden it and prevent contaminated leakage.

The contract also requires the construction of a channel allowing water from two brooks to pass over the solidified mass and flow into Sydney harbour.

The tender evaluations include a local economic benefits program, in which larger national and international companies which may bid for the contract are encouraged to partner with Cape Breton companies for local labour.

Tim Sullivan, representing Sydney-based businesses AIC Sullivan Environmental and Atlantic Site Remediation Ltd., said the number of companies expressing interest is encouraging. "We're excited that there's a really good turnout," he said. "Everybody's talking partnerships, especially from the point of view of expertise in solidification and stabilization."

Chris MacDonald of Hazco Environmental Services, with offices in Sydney and Halifax, said, "A lot of people are trying to get a sense of where people are going to go and focusing on retention of information today."

The list of interested bidders includes companies from across North America and one company from Belgium. The pre-bid information session was hosted by the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency and the project's design engineers, AECOM and CBCL Ltd.

Kevin MacPherson of CBCL outlined the project's health and safety requirements and said the successful contractor will be required to hire a full-time independent health and safety officer to carry out regular inspections and work with officials. MacPherson said other cost implications for the successful bidder would include occupational air monitoring equipment and the use of a registered occupational hygienist.

Ian Shrimpton, design lead, outlined the stages of the process and stressed the importance of building the channel system to Sydney harbour. "The order and sequence of the work will be up to the proponents, but preference must be given to channel construction," Shrimpton said.

Stephen Pinto of CBCL discussed the requirements the successful bidder will face under the project's environmental protection plan. The contractor must employ an environmental monitor with experience in remediation to conduct environmental checks every four hours during construction. All employees working on the site will be required to take two hours of environmental training, which will include information on archaeological awareness.

Vehicles used at the site will have to undergo decontamination to avoid transferring toxins through municipal streets. This requires a Gross Decontamination Zone be built "over an impermeable surface" on the site.

The successful bidder will also need to appoint a quality assurance lead to work with an independent consultant appointed by the agency to ensure reporting and testing requirements are met as the project proceeds.

Companies wishing to test its solidifying mixtures before bidding were invited to collect samples of the toxic sediment provided by the agency Tuesday afternoon.

The tender was released last month and the contract is expected to be awarded in the spring.