Work will begin immediately to construct new channels that will greatly reduce the flow of contaminants from Coke Ovens Brook into the Tar Ponds. RDL Construction Ltd. of Sydney has won a $6.3-million contract to construct the channels, which will make the big cleanup of the Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens simpler and easier. “This project marks the first concrete step in cleaning up contamination at the Coke Ovens,” said Energy Minister Cecil Clarke, who announced the contract today, Aug. 26, on behalf of Michael Baker, acting Minister responsible for the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency. “It’s an important milestone for the cleanup, and it will give Sydney residents a chance to see how our former industrial lands can be safely managed and restored.” The project, which will continue through the 2006 construction season, will employ up to 20 Cape Breton residents. “This project signals the beginning of the work on site,” said MP Mark Eyking, speaking on behalf of Scott Brison, Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada. “It clearly demonstrates the commitment of the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia to proceed with the preventative activities as early as possible, in advance of the main remediation project.” “I am glad to see that this contract was awarded to a local company,” said MP Rodger Cuzner. “I believe that Cape Breton businesses have the skills and capacity to undertake their share of the 10-year remediation project to the benefit of the local economy and create new jobs.” Coke Ovens Brook now flows diagonally across the Coke Ovens, and provides a pathway for leachate to reach the Tar Ponds. Last summer, an engineering report by ADI Limited recommended dividing the brook into two branches. The north branch will run along the Whitney Pier side of the Sydney Coal Railway and the Sydney Port Access Road (SPAR), picking up flows from several smaller brooks along the way. It will cross under the tracks and the SPAR just east of Lingan Road, and follow the rail spur onto the Coke Ovens. The south branch will start behind the Schwartz building on Vulcan Avenue. It will meander through an area known as Mullen’s Bank, parallel to Vulcan Avenue, until it merges with Cagney Brook, then turn north, parallel to Victoria Road. The two channels will meet near the Victoria Road overpass. Part of the relocated south branch will be piped underground, and portions of both branches will be lined with synthetic material or clay to prevent recontamination. Major sections of the new channels include measures to restore fish habitat. The Sydney office of the engineering firm ADI Limited won a contract to design and manage the project the last fall. Design documents are available on the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency website at www.tarpondscleanup.ca . The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour approved the work after an environmental screening.