High water levels slow Randle Reef construction
‘Heart and soul’ of the project gets a $32.9-million boost
The first stage of the massive Randle Reef encapsulation project has been hampered by record high water levels this summer. But project managers say they still expect to finish construction as planned by the end of the year.
Hamilton Harbour water levels, which peaked May 29, have gone down 20 centimetres since then.
But they still need to fall another 20 centimetres before sections of the structure that are currently underwater can be welded, said Jon Gee, manager of areas of concerns with Environment and Climate Change Canada.
“We have an accelerated plan that we have put into place. Hopefully, if the water levels get to where we need them to be we will be done by the end of the year, which has been our target,” he said.
Meanwhile, Catherine McKenna, the federal minister of Environment and Climate Change, was in Hamilton Friday to announce the awarding of the second-phase contract, for $32.9 million.
The contractor — a joint venture between Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc. and Fraser River Pile and Dredge (GP) Inc. — will dredge and place contaminated sediment from the harbour bottom into a containment facility that is currently under construction.
“Phase 2 is really the heart and soul of this project — removing and containing contaminated sediment from Randle Reef ... with basically a huge vacuum cleaner,” McKenna said.
At one point, McKenna, who grew up in Hamilton, actually broke into tears as she talked about returning when the overall project is done and swimming in Hamilton’s bay.
The Randle Reef Contaminated Sediment Remediation Project will cost $138.9 million, over three stages, and is scheduled for completion in 2022.
The project is an effort to contain a 60-hectare coal tar blob of sediment contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals near Stelco property in Hamilton Harbour that in turn will lead to better water quality and a healthier ecosystem.
The 6.2-hectare containment box, called an Engineered Containment Facility (ECF), is doublewalled in steel and is being built around the most toxic section of the reef.
Once completed, less-contaminated sediments from around the facility will be dredged into the boxed-off area.
The first stage began in September 2015 with pier wall re-construction. In-water construction of the containment facility began in May 2016.
Stage Two includes the dredging of contaminated sediments from the surrounding areas and placing them in the ECF via an underwater pipeline. This stage is expected to begin in the spring of 2018 and be completed by late 2019.
Stage Three includes dewatering the contained sediments and construction of a cap on the ECF to turn the area into a pier facility for the Hamilton Port Authority.
The stage is expected to begin in 2020 and be completed in 2022.
MP Bob Brattina and Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, look out over Hamilton Harbour after the $32.9-million announcement