Activity not likely to abate as tar ponds cleanup ramps up

Tom Ayers
Cape Breton Post
Wed., Jun 24, 2009

SYDNEY - The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency is about half-way through the 10-year cleanup of the coke ovens and tar ponds sites, but less than one-fifth of the budget has been spent.

Those numbers are expected to change later this year as several large contracts are awarded, including the largest one - expected to be about $50 million - for the solidification and stabilization of the former industrial lands. Several smaller projects, including capping of the former cooling pond and construction of the materials handling facility, have been completed or are underway.

Recently, roads have been built around the tar ponds and work on the sites should be steady now for the next five years. "Around the tar ponds, you'll see activity ramping up," said tar ponds agency spokesperson Tanya Collier MacDonald. A contract for $37.6 million was recently awarded to MB2 Construction and Beaver Marine to take water from brooks on the coke ovens site and pump it around the tar ponds and into Sydney harbour. The next large contract, expected to be announced soon, is the solidification and stabilization of the tar ponds. "That's the biggest contract, more than $50 million," said Collier MacDonald.

According to a June update supplied to the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency's community liaison committee and posted to the agency's website, the bulk of the money for the $400-million cleanup has yet to be spent. Since the cleanup's start in April 2004, the overall project has cost $71,187,657, or 18 per cent of the $400-million budget, and has generated almost 390 full-time equivalent jobs.

Some of the projects in the first quarter of 2009 included Cape Breton content that varied between 42 and 91 per cent, according to the update. And, it says, in the five years since the cleanup started, Canadian content has averaged 98 per cent. Mainland Nova Scotia has secured 12 per cent of the work and Cape Breton 55 per cent.