Randle Reef remediation project enters final stage

Hamilton Harbour, a Great Lakes Area of Concern on the western tip of Lake Ontario, is the location of the largest contaminated sediment site on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes. Randle Reef is in the southwest corner of the harbour, is roughly 60 hectares or 120 football fields in size, and contains high concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals.

Randle Reef

After this site was identified as a restoration priority, the Randle Reef Contaminated Sediment Remediation Project became one of the largest sediment remediation projects in Canada. The contamination in Randle Reef stems from a legacy of past industrial use, dating back to the 1800s. Cleaning up Randle Reef will mark a significant step forward in remediating Hamilton Harbour and delisting it as a Great Lakes Area of Concern.

The plan

Years of study, consultations and pilot projects led to a comprehensive plan to contain and cap the contaminated sediment, funded by federal, provincial and municipal governments, and the private sector.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is leading the multi-year, $139-million project, in cooperation with other stakeholders and funding partners. The federal and provincial governments each contributed one third of the funding, with the remaining third shared among local partners.

ECCC engaged Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) for the procurement and management of 7 contracts, spanning several years. The project has been divided into 3 stages, each of which requires separate contracts for engineering services and construction. An engineer of record for the overall project was also contracted.

The first stage involved building a 6.2-hectare Engineered Containment Facility (ECF) over a portion of the most contaminated sediment. The second stage was dredging the contaminated sediment around the ECF and placing it in the containment structure. Air and water quality monitoring was conducted throughout the second stage to confirm harmful contaminants were not being released into the surrounding environment. In the third and final stage, the sediment in the ECF will be compressed, excess water will be removed, treated and returned to the harbour, and the ECF will be capped and sealed. The ECF will then be paved for use by the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority.

A significant accomplishment

In November 2021, the Randle Reef Contaminated Sediment Remediation Project received a 2021 Brownie Award in the REINVEST category. Presented by the Canadian Brownfields Network, this prestigious award celebrates the rehabilitation and revitalization of sites that were once contaminated, underutilized and undeveloped.

“Receiving a Brownie Award is a fantastic acknowledgement of the importance of the Randle Reef Contaminated Sediment Remediation Project,” says Tim Palmeter, Regional Director, Environmental Services and Contaminated Sites, PSPC. “This outstanding team effort includes the entire PSPC team as well as our client department, ECCC; consultants; contractors and project partners.”

Project benefits

Completion of the Randle Reef project will be a major milestone toward delisting Hamilton Harbour as a Great Lakes Area of Concern. The remediation project will improve the aquatic habitat for fish and other wildlife, as well as benefit regional ecosystems. The finished project will also create economic and social benefits in the local community: valuable port lands, recreational opportunities, and the promotion of the local community as a healthy and inviting place to live and work.

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