Contract worth $15M awarded for coke ovens cleanup

Cape Breton Post
By Nancy King
Fri., July 24, 2009

SYDNEY - The cleanup of the former coke ovens site took a substantial step forward Thursday, with the awarding of a $15.2-million contract that will see groundwater at the site collected and contaminants removed.

MB2/Beaver Marine Joint Venture, a partnership between a First Nations contractor from Cape Breton and a non-aboriginal Nova Scotia-based company, was awarded the contract to construct a ground water collection system and a water treatment plant at the former coke ovens site. "It ties in the coke ovens into the tar ponds themselves," said Claude Goora, contract manager with the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency. "Contaminated groundwater being treated at our water treatment plant, which is part of this contract, and discharging into the coke oven brook, which leads into the tar ponds area. So, it is the link."

The work is expected to begin in August and be completed next spring.

Contaminants include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), petroleum hydrocarbons, benzenes and toluenes. Contaminated sediment in bottom of the coke ovens brook will be excavated, and replaced by clean backfill material. At the top of that material will be perforated piping which will be used as the collector of groundwater beneath the brook, creating a channel.

Itís going to be collected into the perforated pipe and into a pumping station and into the water treatment plant," Goora said. "Whatís above that clean backfill material and pipe, weíre going to create a new channel, the new channel being lined with high density polyethylene ... thatís basically to protect the surface from groundwater coming up, and also to protect the underneath from surface water coming down."

Water from the brook will drain into the engineered channel that will wind through the tar ponds site until it reaches Sydney Harbour. The channel will also capture other sources of water that drain into the ponds. At the on-site water treatment plant, there will be a series of filters and vessels that will treat the groundwater. Once the water meets acceptable freshwater aquatic life guidelines as set out by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, it will be released into coke ovens brook, Goora said.

The sediment that is removed from the brook will be later stabilized and solidified, while the material collected from the groundwater treatment process will be shipped to a certified treatment facility.

The federal and Nova Scotia governments have committed a total of $400 million to the cleanup of the tar ponds and coke ovens sites by 2014.