MARATHON, ON, May 14, 2012 /CNW/ - The Governments of Canada and Ontario have joined forces in the last major step in the plan to restore Peninsula Harbour to a safe, healthy state. Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc. has been awarded the contract to complete the capping of historically contaminated sediment in the harbour, which is a Great Lakes Area of Concern. The $7.3 million sediment capping project will begin this month.
"The Government of Canada's commitment to cleaning up the Great Lakes remains strong, which is why we are playing a lead role in the remediation of this problem and have committed $2.7 million to see this critical project completed at Peninsula Harbour," said the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada's Minister of the Environment. "We are proud to be using this innovative process to improve water quality in northern Ontario."
Sediment in Peninsula Harbour is contaminated by mercury and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) from historical discharges of wastewater and storm water runoff from the local pulp mill, which closed in 2009. A 15-20 centimetre layer of clean sand will be placed on top of the contaminated sediment. This will accelerate natural recovery of Jellicoe Cove in Peninsula Harbour by reducing plant, animal and fish exposure to chemicals in the sediment, and the spread of contaminated sediments from Jellicoe Cove to the rest of the harbour. This is the first time that a thin-layer capping will be used to manage contaminated sediments in Canada.
"This is a major milestone in dealing with the past pollution of Peninsula Harbour. We are working with our partners and the community to finish the job," said the Honourable Jim Bradley, Ontario Minister of the Environment. "Ontario is committed to keeping the Great Lakes healthy now and for our children and grandchildren. That's why we are working with environmental experts, industry, community groups, First Nations and Métis to develop and introduce a proposed Great Lakes Protection Act."
"This project is going to have real benefits for the community of Marathon," said the Honourable Michael Gravelle, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources. "This brings us closer to our vision of a clean and healthy ecosystem that Ontario families rely on."
Ontario's funding for the Peninsula Harbour sediment capping project includes a $3 million settlement from a former owner of the pulp mill, Ball Packaging Products Canada Corp., and $1.6 million in provincial funding.
"The prosperity of the Great Lakes region is of vital importance to North American prosperity," added Bryan Hayes, Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie, on behalf of Minister Kent. "Canadians depend on the Lakes for drinking water, for recreation and for jobs in the $7 billion per year Great Lakes fishing and shipping industries."
Peninsula Harbour was identified as a Great Lakes Area of Concern in 1987 under the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement because of high levels of chemicals in fish and sediment, loss of fish habitat, and lower populations of fish and sediment-dwelling organisms. The Area of Concern includes the Marathon waterfront and extends four kilometers into Lake Superior.
For more information and to view a backgrounder on this announcement, please visit the Web site of Environment Canada at http://www.ec.gc.ca/.
For further information:
Find out more about Areas of Concern and the remedial action planning process.
Learn about the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
Get information on the Ministry of Natural Resources' Great Lakes program.
Adam Sweet, Press Secretary. Minister's Office, 819-997-1441
Media Relations, Communications Branch, 819-934-8008
Ministry of the Environment
David Oved, Minister's Office, 416-314-6743
Kate Jordan, Communications Branch, 416-314-6666
Ministry of Natural Resources
Maya Gorham, Minister's Office, 416-314-2198
Media Desk, Communications Services Branch, 416-314-2106
(Également offert en français)