Two N.S. companies awarded $37.6 million contract to help in tar ponds cleanup

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MEMBERTOU, N.S. - Two Nova Scotia companies have jointly won a multimillion-dollar contract to help with the ongoing cleanup of the notorious Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens site in Cape Breton.

Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay announced Saturday that the $37.6-million construction contract has been awarded to Beaver Marine Ltd. and MB2 Excavating and Construction Ltd.

The companies will build a system that will divert water from two brooks within the contaminated site.

MB2 Excavating is a local aboriginal firm. Beaver Marine has its head office in Halifax.

Membertou Chief Terry Paul said he's very pleased that another contract has been awarded to an aboriginal firm.

``I'm just so elated,' he said after the announcement. ``It's almost like getting married or having a birth. That's how huge this contract is for people in Cape Breton.'

The contract will create 29 new jobs and keep another 50 people employed, MacKay said.

``This contract advances this important project and contributes to the well-being of the economy and the community of Sydney,' MacKay said in a news release.

MacKay was joined by Cecil Clarke, the member of the provincial legislature for Cape Breton North, for the announcement.

The contract is part of a larger $400-million cleanup project funded by the federal and provincial governments.

The sprawling tar ponds and adjacent coke ovens, polluted from nearly a century of steelmaking, has been called Canada's most toxic site.

Kevin MacDonald, CEO of the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, said redirecting the water is an important part of the cleanup plan, which includes stabilizing of about 700,000 tonnes of sediment.

The process involves mixing cement and other agents into the contaminated material.

Diverting the water will ``ensure an effective chemistry ... and to deliver the right criteria that will imprison the contaminants,' MacDonald said in an interview.

``Basically, we just pump (the water) from one section of the tar ponds to the other as we move forward.'

The system will handle incoming water until a new channel is built in the remediated tar ponds.

Work on the system is expected to begin soon and wrap up in September 2012. The tar ponds cleanup is expected to be completed by March 2014.

Organizations: Beaver Marine, MB2 Excavating and Construction, Sydney Tar Ponds Agency

Geographic location: Cape Breton North, Sydney, Nova Scotia Halifax Canada

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