With work on south pond now complete, tar ponds project reaches another milestone

The remediation of the Sydney tar ponds site has hit another significant milestone, with work on the south pond now complete.

Cape Breton Post
By Nancy King
Fr., May27, 2011

“It is a really exciting time for everyone that’s been working on the project,” noted Tanya Collier MacDonald, spokesperson for the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency.

The south pond represents about 43 per cent of the total sediment at the site, she added. The south pond stretches from Prince Street to the location of the Ferry Street bridge. “We’re not exactly at the midway point, but we’re very close to being there,” MacDonald said.

The 97-hectare site was contaminated with a number of different toxins over the course of a century of steelmaking, and it was also affected by a cement plant, gas and oil company and a brick manufacturer.

The $400-million solidification and stabilization project is funded by the three levels of government. Once the work is completed, the province will assume ownership of the property. The project involves containing sediment using a mixture of cement and other ingredients to prevent contaminants from spreading.

A multi-layer cap will be put on the south pond, it will be covered in topsoil and could bear grass this fall, Collier MacDonald said. The Ferry Street bridge has been removed and will be replaced by a more “esthetically pleasing” bridge that will used by the public once the project is completed, Collier MacDonald said.

Work on the north pond, which spans from the Ferry Street bridge toward the harbour, has begun. “There’s a section that narrows, it’s just about midway through the north pond and between the Ferry Street Bridge to where it narrows is what we’re calling phase two, that part of the project is underway now,” Collier MacDonald said.

The project is within budget, Collier MacDonald said, with about $205 million spent to date.

Future use planning is a component of the work and a request for proposals is expected to be issued within the next two months.

Residents and visitors to the area have had the chance to see the project unfold, with about 40 tours of the site conducted by the agency each year. “The comments are the same — we can’t believe the size, the scope of this project, all the work that’s being done, the dramatic changes in the south pond that are going to open up that community, when you look at that aerial shot, you can see just what the transition is going to be, you can see how the land can be used in the future,” Collier MacDonald said

The project, which began in 2007, is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.