It almost looks like a toy. The notion of putting a lid on a mass of coal tar contamination may sound odd, but it's actually a common method for remediating these situations, says the project manager of Randle Reef.
Jonathan Gee, manager of the Great Lakes Areas of Concern division of Environment Canada, said the plan to encase the worst part of the contamination in steel has worked in numerous other places.
“This is not a brand new creation,” he said. “This is pretty well established.”
The project will see the highest concentration of coal tar — about 130,000 cubic metres — put into “a big steel box,” Gee said. The surrounding contamination — some 500,000 cubic metres — will be dredged into the containment facility, he said.
“It's really pretty simple,” he said of the facility, which has a 200-year lifespan. “Conceptually, you build a big steel box. You fill the big steel box. Then you put a lid on the box and turn it over to an organization that will use it as a port facility and maintain it in perpetuity.”
Gee spoke with CBC Hamilton Tuesday morning when federal environment minister Peter Kent announced Ottawa's share of the $138.9-million project. The clean up is a joint commitment between the federal and provincial governments, the Hamilton Port Authority, the cities of Hamilton and Burlington and the Halton Region.