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.”

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