Brook's realignment will be first step in cleaning up tar ponds, says engineer

By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Fri., July 16, 2004

A realignment of Coke Ovens Brook planned for 2005 will stop contamination from flowing off the toxic site, says an engineer overseeing the conceptual design of the planned work.

Described as the first "concrete" step in cleaning up the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens sites, the brook will now be rerouted along two branches, said Richard Morykot, project engineer for the provincial Sydney Tar Ponds Agency.

The north branch will run from the base of Blueberry Hill in Whitney Pier and flow down a new channel to be dug near Frederick Street and the SPAR road, picking up flows from several smaller brooks along the way. It will cross under the Coal Railway tracks and the SPAR road at a point just east of Lingan Road and follow the rail spur through the coke ovens site to join the south branch at the Victoria Road overpass.

The brook, located along the southside of the old Sydney landfill at the back of the Schwartz building on Vulcan Avenue, will be redirected to Mullin's Bank. It will travel along the bank until it merges with Cagney Brook. At that point, it will run parallel to Victoria Road and follow the existing channel under the Victoria Road overpass.

"It'll circle the site verses going through the middle," said Morykof.

Part of the relocated south branch will be piped underground and portions of both branches will be lined with synthetic material or clay to prevent recontamination.

A fish habitat survey was done on Coke Ovens Brook and no "fish of value" were found. However, following the realignment, it's expected that the habitat will improve once the brook starts rehabilitating.

Now that the conceptual design is complete, engineers will begin a detailed design of the project.

In information provided, previous studies recommend moving the brook to an area where it will not pick up contaminated groundwater as it passes through the coke ovens site. Moving the brook will also permit more thorough cleanup of the stream bed where contaminants accumulated during a century of coke production.

The full report of the conceptual design by the engineering firms Dillon Consulting Ltd. and Franz Environmental Inc., is available on the Sydney Tar Ponds Web site.

The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency will commission a detailed engineering design of the realignment and conduct an environmental screening before work begins next year.

Other engineering work that continues is the construction of a coffer dam at Battery Point, the cleanup of the cooling pond at the southwest corner of the Sysco propecty and the relocation of the Victoria Road water main.