Topsoil among items which will be needed for tar ponds cleanup

Cape Breton businesses lining up for work

By Wes Stewart
Cape Breton Post
Sat., Feb. 17, 2007

Sydney - The tar ponds and coke ovens will be getting a $400 million makeover and that new look will require a lot of topsoil.

Frank Potter said they will probably have to make some of the top-soil needed to cover the site as the cleanup proceeds.

"Cape Breton isn't blessed with a lot of good topsoil. We are going to be challenged to cover a fair part of the site," said the acting CEO of the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency.

Potter added they may have to manufacture their own topsoil by taking some good fill material, adding some amenities to it like organics and compost to create an appropriate topsoil that can be applied to the site.

The need for such things as concrete, gravel and an assortment of services were outlined to about 75 local contractors and service providers at a briefing Friday presented by the tar ponds agency, Public Works Canada, consultants CBCL and the Cape Breton Partnership.

"We are going to make sure we are getting value for money and it's done in an environmentally responsible way," said Ken Swain, federal project director, Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Public Works is also overseeing the cleanup of the former Devco mine sites including the capping of the mine waste dump at Victoria Junction coal preparation plant.

He hopes there will be lots of opportunities for companies to participate in the tar ponds cleanup, a joint federal-provincial project.

Swain added the expertise learned on the cleanup by local companies has the potential to be exported across the country.

This Devco multi-year site remediation plan will coincide with the tar ponds cleanup. "There is lots of work and we are hoping the local businesses will take advantage of the opportunities," he said.

The greatest percentage of the work on the Devco sites has been done by local companies and the preliminary work on the tar ponds is local. "We are trying to design the contract packages looking at the balance between efficiency and cost-effective bidding," Potter said.

There will be aspects of the project that will be done by the larger more experienced firms, especially in the solidification process that also might include partnering with local firms.

"A lot of the packages are typical earthworks that the larger construction firms on the island are quite capable of carrying out," Potter said.