Cleanup work to remove hazardous substances from Victoria Harbour in British Columbia is scheduled to begin shortly with the announcement early this month by Transport Canada that a clean-up contract had been awarded to Milestone Environmental Contracting Limited. Under the $5,344,000 contract, Milestone will remove hazardous chemicals in sediments from Victoria’s Middle Harbour sea bed.
Victoria, B.C. is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada’s Pacific coast. The city has a population of 86,000. The harbour serves as a cruise ship and ferry destination for tourists and visitors to the city and Vancouver Island.
Once the contaminated sediments are removed, it is anticipated that the environmental health of the harbour will be restored. Studies by Transport Canada found that presence of persistent contaminants in the sediments that don’t break down and remain in the environment. The contaminants threaten the marine food web.
The cleanup work will begin in November 2017 and is expected to be completed by January 2018. This involves dredging of contaminated sediment, and transporting the sediment by barge to an approved facility for treatment and disposal. It is estimated that the dredging work will remove 1,200 cubic metres (4,200 cubic feet) of contaminated sediment from the sea bed. The harbour bed will be backfilled with clean material.
The project will be closely monitored by Transport Canada to ensure the safety of workers and the community. Sediment and water quality will be monitored throughout the project to ensure that cleanup objectives are met and that the dredging activities do not have a negative impact on the surrounding environment. For the public’s safety, sections of the lower David Foster Pathway at Laurel Point Park may be closed, but the upper pathway will remain open for the duration of the project.
The Victoria Middle Harbour Remediation Project is funded through the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan, which is coordinated by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, and provides funding to assess and remediate federal contaminated sites.
The source of the contamination in the harbour is from a paint factory that occupied Laurel Point from 1906 until the mid-1970’s. Factory operations caused damage to the sediments surrounding Laurel Point Park.