Horizontal Initiatives

Name of Horizontal Initiative: Sydney Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens Remediation Project

Name of Lead Department(s): PWGSC

Lead Department Program Activity: Specialized Programs & Services

Start Date of the Horizontal Initiative: May 12, 2004

End Date of the Horizontal Initiative: March 31, 2014

Total Federal Funding Allocation (start to end date): $282 million for PWGSC cost share with the Province of Nova Scotia. (The Province of Nova Scotia's share is up to $120 million for a total project cost of $402 million.) Related costs outside of the cost share for federal operations oversight and regulatory responsibility with regard to the site are: PWGSC federal led oversight $25.8 million, funded through PWGSC Specialized Programs and Services, Environment Canada $7.6 million and Health Canada $5.5 million. PWGSC does not administer funding to Environment Canada and Health Canada for this project. Their portion of funding is part of their respective departmental allotments. All federal funding is from Vote 1 Operating Expenditures.

Description of the Horizontal Initiative (including funding agreement): This initiative is a Federal - Provincial Cost Share to remediate the Sydney Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens sites situated on 99 hectares of federally and provincially owned lands in the heart of Sydney, Nova Scotia. These sites were contaminated with over 1,266,000 tonnes of contaminated soil and sediments, as a result of a century of manufacturing steel. The project is in support of the federal government’s sustainable development initiative, recognizing the environmental, social and economic dimensions of the Sydney area. The project will have long term benefits for all Canadians. An Aboriginal Procurement Strategy was developed and specific project work elements were set aside for competition among Canadian First Nations businesses and contractors. When remediation is complete, Nova Scotia will take ownership of the lands. Any remaining contaminants will be managed and monitored by the Province of Nova Scotia in accordance with the Memorandum of Agreement. The provincial agency'’s website can be found at: www.tarpondscleanup.ca. The website for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is: www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/viewer_e.cfm?cear_id=8989#Documents

Shared Outcome(s): The targeted result to be achieved by the partners is to continue to eliminate the pathways to exposure to contaminants, resulting in long term environmental, economic, and social benefits for Nova Scotians, First Nations Communities and all Canadians. Downtown Sydney will have new land to be developed, which will aid in the rejuvenation of the economically depressed area.

Governance Structure(s):

  1. Memorandum to Cabinet dated April 2004 mandated Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) as the federal lead for the project.

  2. Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia was signed on May 12, 2004.

  3. The Interim Cost Share Agreement with the Province, signed on October 20, 2004, provided for interim governance and funding and for undertaking preventative works and preliminary works as set out in the MOA.

  4. The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency was set up by the Province to manage and implement the project. Its operating charter was established on August 18, 2004.

  5. An Independent Engineer was appointed in October 2005 to monitor and confirm the engineering and financial integrity of the project as work progresses.

  6. A Project Management Committee (PMC), which includes senior representatives from both the federal and provincial governments, oversees all aspects of the project.

  7. A Project Management Committee Secretariat, which includes senior representatives from both the federal and provincial governments, supports the PMC and coordinates day to day administration of the Final Cost Share Agreements and its implementing agreements.

  8. An Operational Advisory Committee gives the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency opportunity to report to federal and provincial officials on operational issues and to seek and be provided with advice.

  9. An Environmental Management Committee composed of Federal and Provincial Regulators, expert departments and, the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, coordinates the provision of advice to the proponent and the PMC on issues related to Environmental Management of the Project.

  10. A Community Liaison Committee provides, in accordance with a mutually agreed upon federal/provincial strategy, information to the community on the Project; liaison between the community and governments with respect to identification and management of community stakeholder interests; and, facilitates exchanges of information on matters of a general interest or on specific Project issues and concerns.

  11. A Protocol Agreement was established October 28, 2005, allowing for meaningful economic participation of First Nations communities. An Aboriginal Procurement Strategy was developed and specific project work elements were set aside for competition among Canadian First Nations businesses and contractors.

  12. Results-based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF) and Risk-based Audit Frameworks (RBAF) were established for the length of the project. Continuous monitoring of the RMAF’s key performance indicators are ongoing to ensure evidence based information.

  13. On May 31, 2007, Treasury Board Decision #833589 granted approval of the terms and conditions of the Final Cost Share Agreement (FCSA) and associated funding for the cost shared activities, with PWGSC as the federal lead, as well as for costs of federal operations of Environment Canada and Health Canada. The FCSA was signed on September 27, 2007, incorporating Environmental Assessment panel recommendations, reaffirming funding commitments and further delineating the governance structure for the final seven years of the remediation project to its completion in 2014.

  14. On March 18, 2009, a MOA was signed between Canada and Nova Scotia to share expertise and coordinate relevant environmental regulatory process.

Planning Highlights for 2012-2013: Continuous monitoring of the Results-based Management and Accountability Framework's key performance indicators are ongoing to ensure evidence based information.

The Construction phase of the North Pond and the former South Pond, continues with project elements TP6A - Water Flow Diversion (pump around) which will redirect two brooks away from remediation activities; TP6B - solidification and stabilization treatment of contaminated sediments in the Tar Ponds; TP7 - Capping of the Tar Ponds; CO6A & CO6B - Capping of the Coke Ovens; and, Future Site Use Plans.

Key plans and risks are as follows:

TP6A - Water Flow Diversion - The final phase of the pumping system will operate until the fall of 2012 which will then mark the completion of the new channel through to the Sydney Harbour.

TP6B - Solidification and Stabilization treatment of contaminated sediments in the Tar Ponds - The final and third phase of this element will be completed by the fall of 2012. This phase includes the portion of the North Pond between the Narrows (narrowing portion near the center of the North Pond) and the Battery Point Barrier (Interface with Sydney Harbour). The South Tar Pond treatment was completed in fiscal year 2011/12.

The biggest risk would be delay to TP6B on water management due to the close proximity and more chance for tidal effects on the work area. There is an additional risk of encountering debris of archaeological significance which is said to be higher in this phase more so than others.

TP7 - Tar Ponds Cap, will be engaged in following up and completing the cap in the orphaned areas of the South Pond and mobilizing, in mid fall 2011, to the final phase location of the North Tar Pond once the Solidification/Stabilization is complete.

TP6C - Ferry Street Bridge construction will be completed in the spring 2012. The completion of the Ferry Street Bridge will complement the Future Site Use Efforts which will begin early summer 2012.

CO6 -Coke Ovens Surface Cap is a two phased project. The first phase was an Aboriginal Procurement Set-Aside, and the second phase was open to all qualified contractors. The first phase, CO6A, north portion, bordered by Sydney Port Access Road and Coke Ovens Brook, will be completed in Fiscal Year 2011/12 with likely only hydro-seed touch up and minor items remaining for 2012/13. The second phase, CO6B, began in earnest in the fall of 2011 and is targeted for completion December, 2012.

Federal Partners:

Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) - lead federal department.

Environment Canada (EC) - Provision of advice to PWGSC as required.

Health Canada (HC) - Provision of advice to PWGSC as required.

Electronic Link to Government Performance Reports: www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dpr-rmr/index-eng.asp.

Electronic Link to Sydney Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens Sites cleanup: www.tarpondscleanup.ca.

Federal Partner Program Activity (PA) Names of Programs for Federal Partners ($ millions)
Total Allocation (2004-2014) Planned Spending for
Federal lead, PWGSC


Cost Share Payment to Province of Nova Scotia:

Sydney Tar Ponds & Coke Ovens Remediation Project





Environment Canada - Provide advice to PWGSC

Sydney Tar Ponds



Health Canada - Provide advice to PWGSC

Sydney Tar Ponds



Total $321,250,000 $57,648,532

Expected Results:

PWGSC’s project team, as federal lead, ensures the project is complying with the project agreements, the efficient and effective use of public funds, application of federal standards and policies, and effective communication with stakeholders, using appropriate oversight and due diligence.

Provision of expert and technical advice to PWGSC on technical issues, historical studies and scientific issues related to contaminated sites.

Provision of expert and technical advice to PWGSC on issues related to human health, technical issues and risk assessment.

Results to be achieved by Non-federal Partners (if applicable): The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, who is implementing the day to day technical aspects of the Project elements in accordance with the agreements signed by the government partners, has planned remediation work for cost shared expenditures for fiscal year 2012-13 in the amount of $53.8M federal cost share.

Contact Information:
Randy Vallis,
Sydney Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens Remediation Project,
295 Charlotte Street,
Sydney, NS
B1P 6J9
Tel: 902-564-2543
Email: randy.vallis@pwgsc.gc.ca

Brenda Powell,
Chief Business Management,
Sydney Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens Remediation Project
Tel: 902-368-0359
Email: brenda.powell@pwgsc.gc.ca

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