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00 / Summer 2011 / RECORD
evin MacDonald is a Cape Bretoner through and
through. Born and raised in new Waterford, he
returned to the Island following his university studies
to enjoy a successful career as an engineer. Three years ago he was
offered the chance to lead one of the most prominent remedia-
tion and environmental clean up projects in Canada in his own
backyard, and he jumped at the chance.
MacDonald is now CEO of the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency (STPA),
charged with cleaning up the Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens sites.
Situated in the heart of Sydney, nS, the sites contain one million
tonnes of contaminated soil and sediment from nearly 100 years of
steel and coke production.
"It's an important community project and one of the most
challenging -- and rewarding -- I've ever worked on," says
MacDonald. "In 2008 I was working for the Cape Breton
Regional Municipality (CBRM) as the director of engineering
and public works. The STPA had already been established for a
number of years at this time, working on the consulting, design,
and technology phases of this huge project. When I heard they
were looking for someone to help lead the construction phase of
the site, I thought it would be a great opportunity."
And this great opportunity rang true. The construction and final
stage of the Sydney Tar Ponds project is now more than halfway
complete with a scheduled finish date of March 2014, a deadline
MacDonald is confident his team will meet.
"I work with a wonderful team. There are about 30 people at the
Agency and their dedication to this project is phenomenal. We
also work with various levels of government and consultants,
contractors, and construction firms. The Tar Ponds clean up
has been a real community effort with local firms, including a
high level of Aboriginal participation, working on the project in
various capacities."
The South Pond, which accounts for 50 per cent of the Tar Ponds
site, is now complete and will soon have public access. Using a tech-
nology proven in other parts of the world, but never used in Canada,
a pumping station was built on site and dewatered the tar pond
sludge. The sludge was then mixed with cement in the South Pond.
The mixture is covered with clay and other materials, which seal the
cement mixture. Because of this process the once toxic sludge is now
safely entombed, where ground water and rainfall can't reach it or
become contaminated. The South Pond site will become a green
community space for all residents of the CBRM.
"It's amazing to see this kind of technology used right in my home
province. This technology came to Cape Breton when a local firm
was able to partner with a company in the US who were experts in
this solidification/stabilization process. As a result, we now have
our own experts in this process, the only ones in Canada."
Outside the STPA MacDonald keeps busy, with his heart always
in Cape Breton. His family is still based in new Waterford and
he enjoys summers at his cottage on the Mira River.
It's an important
community project
and one of the most
challenging -- and
rewarding -- I've
ever worked on
by Laura Dillman Ripley