The Canadian government has pledged funding to clean up contaminated sediment at Randle Reef in the Hamilton Harbour.
Environment Canada says it will lead the cleanup project in partnership with various regional governments — including the provincial government of Ontario, the City of Hamilton, and the Hamilton Port Authority.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, Environment Minister Peter Kent said, “Cleaning up Randle Reef is vital for Hamilton and the region. This initiative will deliver environmental, health, and economic benefits to the local community over the eight year life of the project, including the creation of approximately 60 jobs.”
The Randle Reef site contains sediment contaminated with persistent toxic chemicals and heavy metals. These were deposited over a long period of time from industrial operations that are no longer active.
In 1985, Hamilton Harbour was identified as an Area of Concern under the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement due to significant water quality impairments. While many improvements have been made to reduce pollution in the harbour, the contaminated sediment at Randle Reef remained a principal environmental challenge.
Environment Canada estimates that the cost of the Randle Reef sediment remediation project to be about $138.9 million. In addition to the $46.3 million in funding from the federal government, the Province of Ontario has committed to provide $46.3 million, and $14 million is being contributed by the City of Hamilton, $14 million by U. S. Steel Canada and $14 million by the Hamilton Port Authority, as well as $2.3 million from the City of Burlington and $2 million from Halton Region.
Cleaning up Randle Reef will be the last major step in the process to restore Hamilton Harbour and remove it from the list of Areas of Concern.
The initiative is expected to improve water quality, making it safer to consume fish caught in Hamilton harbour. When completed, it will also remove current restrictions on navigation and hopefully generate economic returns through the creation of valuable port lands.