Engineering contract awarded

Details of $30M tar ponds cleanup deal to be finalized

By Wes Stewart
Cape Breton Post
Thurs., Sept. 28, 2006

Sydney - A total of $400 million will be spent in the downtown core during the next seven years as the tar ponds and coke ovens sites are cleaned up.

It's Barbara Stead Coyle's job to see that a sizable share of each dollar spent stays in Cape Breton.

The economic benefits co-ordinator for the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency said Wednesday her job is to design policies and programs to optimize local participation and spend money locally.

The agency is now managing about $5 million in projects that were not part of the environmental assessment process - the realignment of Coke Oven brook, the barrier built at Battery Point and the cleaning of the cooling pond.

The actual cleanup is now in the panel review process and governments are preparing to respond to the 50-plus recommendations.

A decision on the actual cleanup method and a go forward is expected soon. "Hopefully we will hear early in the new year, which would let us ramp up for the summer."

Stead Coyle said the work is really about producing cleanup and design programs and tendering policies that will optimize local participation. Some goods and services, such as cement, are not available locally. "We know we can get topsoil and gravel and all those materials locally, so we want to optimize that."

The project is being designed so contracts are manageable for the local contracting community. She said companies will be asked what they will do for the community while here, what kind of community support they will offer - such as donations to the hospital foundation or a food bank - and will employees volunteer for charity work.

The cleanup proposal as it now stands is a mixture of stabilization and solidification and incineration.

Stead Coyle said the project, which is in the pre-design stage, estimates 120 full-time jobs on site; that doesn't include the indirect jobs in companies providing goods and services.

A workshop for contractors, suppliers of equipment and services will be held Oct.31 at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre, co-ordinated by the Cape Breton Partnership. It will detail the work component opportunities.

"You are not going to see 1,000 people on the site in hard hats; it is going to be much more subtle than that, you will see 30 to 40 in different pockets around the site," Stead Coyle said.

Stead Coyle issued a cautionary note, saying the cleanup will not provide a big hit to the economy; instead there will be steady, slow incremental increases over the term of the cleanup.