October 30, 2006

Earth Tech Canada to perform Tar Ponds cleanup engineering design, RFP issued for future site use study

The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency (STPA) has awarded Earth Tech Canada a $30-million contract for the detailed engineering design of the Tar Ponds and coke ovens cleanup. Earth Tech and its local partner, CBCL, will carry out the detailed engineering for the cleanup and will supervise construction during the eight-year project. Work will begin immediately with preparation of design and tender documents for the construction of new clean-water channels through the Tar Ponds next summer.

Earth Tech was one of three engineering firms to bid on the $30-million contract. Evaluators ranked Earth Tech first in technical merit and local economic benefits, and a close second in price. Technical merit accounted for 75% of the evaluation score, local economic benefits 15% and price 10%.

As part of its commitment to generate local economic benefits from the project, Earth Tech will open an engineering design centre in Sydney. The company said cleanup-related design work will provide a base workload for the centre, which will attract international environmental design business.

"Earth Tech has a proven track record in designing and managing environmental cleanups," said Frank Potter, acting CEO of the STPA. "Cleaning up this notorious eyesore will bring economic benefits in its own right, but Earth Tech has accepted our challenge to find creative ways of transferring knowledge and business to Sydney," he added.

Meanwhile, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) has issued a request for proposals to study potential future uses of the Sydney Tar Ponds and coke ovens sites. The STPA and Public Works and Government Services Canada will contribute $100,000 to the $200,000 CBRM study. CBRM, other federal landholders, and Nova Scotia Lands, a provincial real estate holding agency, are also expected to contribute to the cost.

"Over the next eight years, we will rehabilitate 100 hectares in the middle of Sydney," said the STPA's Potter, adding, "We think this study is a great opportunity for the community to focus on how those lands should be used."

A $400-million plan by the STPA to clean up the two sites is awaiting final approvals from the federal and provincial governments following an exhaustive public environmental review by a joint panel. The response by the two levels of government is expected by year-end.

Successful cleanups of similar sites in other communities have been linked to early development of future use plans, and the joint panel made several recommendations about future site use. It urged the municipality and the agency to develop a future use plan that incorporates the municipality's proposal for a "port-to-port" plan, comprising the development of a corridor linking the port of Sydney and the airport.

The panel also said the future use plan should also reflect the public's desire for active living spaces on the two sites, including the planting of native trees and shrubs. It urged the STPA to set aside money to share the future cost of maintaining walking trails and open spaces.

A draft report is due no later than six months after the contract is awarded, with the final report due a month later.

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