Three levels of government have announced combined funding of $43 million (CDN$62 million) to be directed to preliminary remediation programs for the Sydney Tar Ponds, Nova Scotia. Of that amount, approximately $10 million will be used for administration, study, and assessment while the balance will be allocated to Phase I remediation and on-site demonstrations. The Sydney Tar Ponds have been described as one of Canada's worst environmental problems and have been the subject of extensive public and private sector scrutiny over the last 15 years. Interested U.S. companies will have an opportunity to make their capabilities known to procurement decision makers, but only if they are registered with the primary agency responsible for the project, the Joint Action Group (JAG), based in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
The total amount of project funding will be committed over a three-year period. A local, community based group, the Joint Action Group, will be largely responsible for the allocation of those funds. JAG has been accepting indications of interest from Canadian and U.S. companies, as well as from firms based in Germany, France, Mexico, and others. To date, those inquiries have only been kept on file with no action taken. However, a request for proposals is expected to be issued by JAG prior to the end of August, 1999.
The Sydney Tar Ponds are located in the municipality of Sydney, Nova Scotia, approximately 500 kilometers northeast of Halifax. The Tar Ponds are the result of more than eighty years of uncontrolled discharge from a coke oven operation at the local steel mill. Approximately 82 acres in area, the site contains 700,000 tons of toxic sludge including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and other residue from decades of steel making. PCB concentrations are in the 400-500 ppm range. A landfill site is also contributing to the complexity of the multi-source pollutants.
Contaminated material drains into the Sydney harbor and continues on to the Atlantic Ocean. Tested soil samples found elevated levels of lead, PAHs and arsenic. In particular, levels of arsenic were found to be 18.5 times higher than the acceptable limits set by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). The depth of contaminated sediment ranges from approximately 1.5 - 4.0 meters. Contaminants at the coke ovens site have migrated down more than 21 meters to the bedrock. Sediment consistency ranges from a coarse, sandy silt in the southern portion to a finer silty matter in the northern portion. There are also some areas of what has been described as deep tarry material.
The upcoming RFP will invite companies on file with JAG to submit proposals based on the capability of their technologies to remediate partial sections of the tar ponds site. The demonstrations are planned to include only those technologies deemed suitable to this type of contamination. The demonstration will be conducted on a ‘pilot scale’, ideally leading to a better understanding of the cost and time requirements for a project of this size. The clean-up technologies used will be directed to the remaining coke ovens as well as to the actual ponds. From these technologies, a company(s) will be selected to tackle the larger areas of the tar ponds for long term remediation. This second and third phase has yet to be funded.
Phase I Remediation, considered preliminary, is to include:
- Developing an emergency response capacity;
- Implementing a site separation zone;
- Constructing a sewer interceptor;
- Controlling landfill leachate;
- Completing site demolition/disposal;
- Project management.
The responsible federal agency, Environment Canada, and JAG have each reviewed planning details and background to this most recent funding round on their web sites. The sites provide valuable information on this funding round (Env Canada) as well as detailed background - JAG web site: photographs, maps, history, and process, all related to the Tar Ponds project.
Joint Action Group (JAG)
Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 7B9
Contact: Ms. Germaine LeMoine, Interim Program Coordinator
Tel: (902) 563-5584
Fax: (902) 563-5240
Web Site: www.muggah.org
45 Alderney Drive
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia B2Y 2N6
Contact: Diane Giffin-Boudreau. Special Project Advisor
Tel: (902) 426-7190
Fax: (902) 426-3654
Web site: www.ns.ec.gc.ca/press/99-05-28
Implications for U.S. Companies: Clearly, there are opportunities here for U.S. companies having front line experience with remediating sites comparable in some way to the Sydney Tar Ponds. To be placed on a vendor list, U.S. companies will have to register first with JAG in order to receive the RFPs. For a U.S. company companies considering a submission, the following components are expected to be positive assets to any proposal:
Local Content - Some type of business arrangements with Canadian companies already considered as reputable and successful in Canada's Atlantic provinces, preferably in Nova Scotia, will likely be a key condition prior to any technology being considered. This could be organized around a joint venture, alliance, rights to represent, technology licensing, or similar. Without some type of local agreement in place, the chances for success decline dramatically.
Employment Opportunities - Employment prospects for local tradesmen, technicians, engineers, fabricators, etc. needs to be taken into account. The current, official unemployment rate for Sydney and its surrounding county is 17.9 percent.
Technology Transfer - Prior to submitting any proposals, U.S. companies should consider the implications of training and technology transfer and how this might affect their prospects for success. Although not essential, some level of technology transfer, local training, or other value-added component could make a difference to a U.S. company proposal.
U.S. companies interested in pursuing Canadian alliances related to this project or to other services within the environmental industries should consider the Gold Key Service offered by the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS), Canada. This customized service includes a market briefing and qualified appointments with likely partners or representatives, plus additional assistance and information on local market characteristics and business practices. For more information about the Gold Key Service please contact the USCS at the U.S. Consulate General, Halifax, Nova Scotia, tel: (902) 429-2482, fax: (902)-429-7690, E-mail: Halifax.email@example.com
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