St. Clair River mercury cleanup gets boost of $1 million
Plans to remove historic mercury pollution from sediment in the St. Clair River have taken a step forward.
The St. Clair River Conservation Authority said $1 million has been provided by the federal and provincial governments, along with Dow Canada, to begin detailed engineering design for the removal of the contaminated sediment. The mercury-contaminated sediment was found in three areas of the river between Sarnia and Stag Island, and is believed to have come from Dow Chemical’s Sarnia manufacturing operation, which closed in 2009.
Efforts to deal with the pollution have been underway for several years and in 2014 a recommendation was sent to the federal and provincial governments to remove the sediment at an estimated cost of more than $28 million. Getting to the point of launching work on detailed engineering came after “significant negotiations between the three parties,” said Brian McDougall, general manager of the conservation authority.
He said the recent funding from governments and the company will take the project “through final design, to the point where we would have a tender we would be prepared to put out for a contractor to come in” and carry out the sediment remediation.
A project manager will be hired to be responsible for the process of putting a consultant in place to develop a detailed engineering plan. The project manager will also provide oversight for the design process expected to begin in early 2019 and continue for two years. “The detailed engineering design phase of this project will outline logistical details to carry out the work and provide a more accurate estimate of costs,” McDougall said. “It is something of a serious nature so we’re going to take the time and do it right.”
The design stage will include consultation with the public, including First Nation communities and other stakeholders, he said. “I’m hoping that with two years of preparation, we can also be working on securing funding for that implementation.”