Companies team up to lead tar ponds cleanup

Governments still pondering strategy

By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Fri., Oct. 13, 2006

Sydney - A $30-million contract signed by Earth Tech Canada Inc. has protections for both the public and the firm as governments ponder the final approval of the tar ponds cleanup plans.

Joe Sullivan, Earth Tech's project manager, was in Sydney Thursday to announce the firm, partnered with CBCL Ltd., won the lucrative contract. The team will carry out the design work and oversee construction contracts aiming to clean up the tar ponds and coke ovens sites by 2014.

However, federal and provincial governments have yet to approve preliminary cleanup plans. They're currently reviewing numerous recommendations made in a joint review panel environmental assessment report and aren't expected to respond until December.

"We have the foundation to move forward," Sullivan said assuredly during a press conference at the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency office on Inglis Street. "All the talking and studying is over. Field work starts next spring."

Earth Tech is also combining its abilities with CBCL, which has operated in Sydney for about 23 years, to develop an engineering design centre at its location on the corner of Charlotte and Dorchester streets in Sydney. It's anticipated the centre will draw international environmental business to the region.

It's that kind of local economic spinoff that got Earth Tech the points needed to edge out other proposals, said Frank Potter, the agency's acting chief executive officer. Some of the firm's other winning components were aboriginal capacity building, a strong affirmative action strategy, as well as partnering with Cape Breton University.

Potter said vendors are required to report on benefits monthly and could face penalties if reports are incomplete.

To give this community a better understanding of what economic benefits are to come, the agency, with help from the Cape Breton Partnership, will host an economic benefits workshop at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre, Oct. 31