Hamilton’s Randle Reef remediation wraps up Phase Two

Hamilton Harbour workers take on the sand layer portion of placing an isolation cap for sediment containment in the fall of 2021. Photo credit: Bay Area Restoration Council

One of the most notable remediation projects in North America, for its sheer scale of underwater contamination on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes, has now completed the second of three phases after workers removed the equivalent of nearly three hockey rinks full of contaminated sediment.

The Randle Reef Remediation Project in Ontario’s Hamilton Harbour saw 615,000 cubic metres of contaminated sediment dredged and contained after a century-and-a-half of pollution from coal gasification, petroleum refining, steel making, sewage effluent, overland drainage and more.

The work took some four years to complete.

“The completion of this stage of the Randle Reef project gets the communities of Hamilton and Burlington one step closer to delisting Hamilton Harbour as an Area of Concern,” announced Hamilton East-Stoney Creek MP Chad Collins in a statement.

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The harbour’s Area of Concern designation came in 1985 under the Canada–US Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Phase two of the remediation utilized a 6.2-hectare double-walled steel structure also referred to as an Engineered Containment Facility. This phase was led by Environmental Contracting Inc. and Fraser River Pile & Dredge Inc., and used a discharge pipeline to send the dredged sediment from a pump into containment.

As part of the third and final stage of the project, scheduled to begin in fall 2022 and be completed by 2024, workers will install aggregate and synthetic layers to form a base for a containment cap. A drainage layer will then be added to collect and remove water from the contaminated sediment. Finally, a multi-layered impermeable environmental top will be placed on the containment structure as a final step to isolate the contaminants.

The $138.9-million cleanup has been funded through a public-private approach and involves a list of project partners that includes the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, the City of Hamilton, Halton Region, the City of Burlington, Hamilton–Oshawa Port Authority and Stelco.

Once completed, the resulting port lands on the Randle Reef remediated site will be transferred to the Hamilton–Oshawa Port Authority and could generate an estimated $167 million in economic benefits for the local community, officials said.

“Collecting and containing the contaminated sediment is a key step in the remediation of Randle Reef and an incredibly important part of our efforts to transform Hamilton Harbour into a healthy ecosystem and a viable waterfront for all to enjoy,” announced Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

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