Piledriving project a ‘significant step’ in Randle Reef cleanup

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Environment Canada and the Hamilton Port Authority launched a structural test project Monday that will dig deep for information to help in the development of the proposed Randle Reef sediment remediation project.

A structural test project that will dig deep for data to help in the development of the proposed Randle Reef remediation project has begun on the site of the contamination in Hamilton Harbour.

The project started Monday and involves piledriving on the toxic reef in an effort to confirm engineering design details. The information gathered will be incorporated into engineering specifications for the construction stage of the proposed sediment remediation project.

The project’s announcement by Environment Canada and the Hamilton Port Authority comes a few weeks after the Ontario government topped up its contribution to help clean up the contamination to $46.3 million from $30 million.

That was one of the final hurdles to the $140-million remediation of the toxic Randle Reef, which is the biggest toxic coal tar deposit in Canada. The 12-hectare shale reef is heavily polluted with coal tar, a byproduct of turning coal into coke. Ottawa, Hamilton, Halton, Burlington, U.S. Steel and the port authority are all making contributions to remedy the reef.

The proposed Randle Reef sediment remediation project involves constructing a containment facility on top of a portion of the most contaminated sediment, then dredging and placing most of the remaining sediment into it. In total, the facility will hold 630,000 cubic metres of sediment.

The test project involves hammering sheet piles into the lake bed to the depths specified in the containment facility design, and then testing them at separate locations around the perimeter of the proposed container.

“The cleanup of Randle Reef is important for the future of this community and reflects the Government of Canada’s commitment to clean water for Canadians,” federal Environment Minister Peter Kent said in a news release. “This test project is a significant step in moving the proposed Randle Reef sediment remediation project forward.”

Hamilton Port Authority president and CEO Bruce Wood said his agency was pleased to see the remediation moving forward.

“This test project will give us valuable information as we progress toward the construction phase,” he said in a news release.