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.

Randle Reef, Hamilton Harbour, Lake Ontario

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) has led 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 remediation plan to manage 615,000 m3 of contaminated sediment involves the following 4 steps:

  • Constructing a 6.2 hectare engineered containment facility (ECF) on top of 140,000 m3 of sediment highly contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals. Building the facility in this location ensured that the most toxic sediment was not disturbed.
  • Approximately 450,000 m3 of contaminated sediment surrounding the ECF was dredged and placed inside the ECF.
  • An additional 5,000 m3 of sediment (located in the channel between the ECF and Stelco) was managed with an engineered isolation cap.
  • Approximately 20,000 m3 of marginally contaminated sediment was managed by placing a thin layer of sand overtop.

This total management volume of 615,000 m3 of contaminated sediment would fill Hamilton’s First Ontario Centre (formerly Copps Coliseum) three times.

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.

Upon completion of the project, the Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA) will accept ownership of the facility and be responsible for monitoring, maintaining, and developing the site as port facilities. The facility is expected to have a 200-year life span.

Source: Public Services and Procurement Canada