Archived: Report on Plans and Priorities 2014-15, supplementary tables, Environment and Climate Change Canada, chapter 5

Status Report on Transformational and Major Crown Projects

Description: 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 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (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-Ontario Agreement (COA) Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.

The Randle Reef Sediment Remediation project involves the construction of a 7.5-ha engineered containment facility (ECF) over the most highly contaminated sediment, dredging and placement of additional contaminated sediment within the ECF, and in-situ capping and isolation of remaining targeted sediment - for a grand total of 675,000 m3 of sediment being managed.

Project Stage:The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) 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. The PWGSC’s contract tendering process has been initiated towards a construction start in the spring of 2014.

Leading and Participating Departments and Agencies
Lead Department Environment Canada
Contracting Authority Public Works and Government Services Canada
Participating Department(s)

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment

City of Hamilton

City of Burlington

Region of Halton

Hamilton Port Authority

U.S. Steel Canada

Prime and Major Subcontractor(s)
Prime Contractor Not determined yet
Major Subcontractor(s) Not determined yet
Major Milestone Dates (Proposed)
Pre-construction preparations 2013-14
Stage 1: ECF Construction 2014-15 to 2016-17
Stage 2: Dredging and Containment 2016-17 to 2018-19
Stage 3: Capping and Landscaping 2019-20 to 2021-22
Post-construction Monitoring/Maintenance 2022-23 to 2036-37

Project outcomes: Project outcomes are the measurable results expected at the end of the project and they contribute to the sustainment or improvement of one of the activities in Environment Canada’s Program Alignment Architecture.

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.

Progress report and explanations of variances: The Treasury Board approved the Randle Reef 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.

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 ECF will be connected to Pier 15, owned by the Hamilton Port Authority, located south of the property owned by U.S. Steel (formerly Stelco).

Following project completion, the Hamilton Port Authority (HPA) will develop and operate the surface of the ECF as a marine facility and will be responsible for ongoing monitoring and maintenance. Two thirds of the site may be developed into a marine terminal that will be suitable for ships of Great Lakes Seaway draught, providing access to berths along Pier 15, northwest of Sherman Inlet. The remaining one third of the site will either be maintained as vegetated green space or surfaced with a suitable aggregate material and used as industrial space.

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 8-year life of the project.

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