Archived: Departmental Performance Report supplemental tables 2014-15, Environment Canada, chapter 7

Status Report on Transformational and Major Crown Projects

Project name

Randle Reef Sediment Remediation Project


Randle Reef is an area of highly contaminated sediment located on the south shore of Hamilton Harbour in the western end of Lake Ontario, and is considered to be the largest and one of the more complex and highly contaminated sediment sites in the Great Lakes. With the remediation of the Sydney Tar Ponds nearing completion, Randle Reef is now the largest polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contaminated sediment site in Canada. Sediment remediation is required to reduce the environmental impacts of contaminants, including the PAHs and heavy metals located at this site.

Owing to the long history of contamination (more than 150 years) from multiple sources, it is not possible to apply the polluter pay principle. Instead, a shared responsibility model has been adopted with the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario and the local community, participating equally in the design and implementation of a solution. This legacy site is a priority for remediation in the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan (RAP) and under the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA).

The Randle Reef Sediment Remediation project involves the construction of a 6.2 ha engineered containment facility over the most highly contaminated sediment, dredging and placement of additional contaminated sediment within the facility, and in-situ capping and isolation of remaining targeted sediment for a grand total of 695,000 m3 of sediment being managed.

Project outcomes

The objective of the project is to contribute to the improvement of environmental conditions in Hamilton Harbour and to assist in the delisting of the harbour as an Area of Concern. Performance of the remediation project will be measured with a set of indicator studies designed to assess the effectiveness of the sediment remediation project. Indicator studies have been undertaken for the project to establish baseline biological and chemical conditions in the remediation area, and will be used to assess the effectiveness of the project through a comparison with post-remediation conditions. The studies include:

  • PAH concentrations and profiles in suspended sediments
  • Sediment toxicity and benthic invertebrate community structure
  • Incidence of tumours and external abnormalities in wild fish

The Randle Reef Sediment Remediation Project will prevent or reduce the spread of PAH-contaminated sediment from the project site into the rest of the harbour. The remediation of Randle Reef will improve water quality and reduce contaminant levels in biota, eventually making it safer to consume fish caught in the harbour. It will also remove current restrictions on navigation and generate economic returns through the creation of valuable port lands.

Industrial benefits

Hamilton Harbour is a 2,150 ha embayment located at the western end of Lake Ontario and connected to the lake by a single ship canal across the sandbar that forms the bay. The Harbour accommodates a commercial port and is considered a major shipping centre. The south shore of the harbour supports the highest concentration of heavy-metal industries (primarily iron and steel) in Canada.

The contaminated sediment targeted for remediation is located at Randle Reef along the south shore of Hamilton Harbour in the vicinity of piers 14, 15 and 16. The engineered containment facility will be connected to Pier 15, owned by the Hamilton Port Authority (HPA).

Following project completion, the HPA will develop and operate the surface of the engineered containment facility as a marine facility and will be responsible for ongoing monitoring and maintenance. The majority of the site may be developed into a marine terminal that will be suitable for ships of Great Lakes Seaway draught.

In 2007, a research study by York University revealed that the net benefits (environmental, social and economic) of cleaning up Randle Reef were estimated as $126 million over 25 years. The proposed Randle Reef Contaminated Sediment Remediation Project will further advance the economic competitiveness of the region through expanded port facilities, shoreline redevelopment and the creation of approximately 60 jobs a year over the 7-year life of the project.

Sponsoring department

Environment Canada

Contracting authority

Public Works and Government Services Canada

Participating departments

Not applicable

Prime contractor

McNally International (ECF construction); Riggs Engineering Ltd. (construction supervision engineering); and Dean Construction Co. Ltd. (Pier 15 re-construction)

Major subcontractors

Not determined yet

Project phase

This project is in the implementation phase. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Comprehensive Study report was signed by the Minister in May 2013. Project implementation agreements between Environment Canada and each of the project funding organizations were signed in September 2013, following which the Department entered into a specified service agreement with Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) to implement the project as the contracting authority. Following an unsuccessful tender in 2014, the project design and implementation plan were optimized to reduce the cost of the project. PWGSC’s contract tendering process was completed in the Spring 2015 towards a construction start in the fall of 2015. The Hamilton Port Authority is the contract authority for re-construction of the adjacent Pier 15 harbour wall which is necessary to allow contaminated sediments to be dredged from this area in Stage 2 of the project.

Major milestones

2013-15 - Pre-construction preparations

September 2015 to fall 2017- Stage 1: Engineered Containment Facility Construction

2017-18 to June 2019 - Stage 2: Dredging and Containment

2019-20 to June 2022 - Stage 3: Capping and Landscaping

2022-23 to 2036-37 - Post-construction Monitoring/Maintenance

Progress report and explanation of variances

The Treasury Board approved the Randle Reef Sediment Remediation Project on December 13, 2012, with an estimated cost of $138.9 million. The construction phase of the project is scheduled to be completed in 2022, with post-construction monitoring to continue for an additional 15 years to 2037.

This 7 year project will be implemented in a staged approach, and led by Environment Canada with PWGSC as the contract authority. Legal agreements have been negotiated for cost sharing of the project with Environment Canada, Ontario and the local community each contributing one-third of the project cost.

The initially planned 2014 project start date was delayed as a result of contractor bids on the first stage of the project exceeding cost estimates for this stage. Environment Canada and the project funding partners subsequently evaluated a range of options to advance the project in a manner which will achieve the environmental objectives within available resources. The Minister of the Environment and the project partners have concurred with a plan for a modified project design that would see in-water work begin in September 2015 and Stage 1 construction would be completed in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

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