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Phase1 - Environmental Site Assessment





Over the course of this study, several key individuals were interviewed with regards to past operational activities and environment management issues. These individuals primarily consisted of former SYSCO employees now working on the site for Ernst & Young Inc., as well as regulators.

The employees were questioned with regard to specific issues such as the former location of the transformer repair shop, or whether lubricating oils had been used in particular buildings. The interview forms is provided in
Appendix B.



Previous Environmental Studies


No previous environmental studies have focused on the Sydney Steel Plant. Several reports have been produced over the past 30 years regarding the Tar Ponds (Muggah Creek), and more recently the Coke Ovens and adjoining areas.

Approximately 20 reports were reviewed as part of this study. A complete list of these reports is included in Appendix A. Relevant information gleaned from these reports is incorporated in Section 5.0. Several of these reports stand out as particularly useful due to their recent dates of completion, their methodical approach, and the fact the studies tended to consider the entire Muggah Creek Watershed, including the steel plant property. These are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Phase II and III Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) of the Muggah Creek Watershed were undertaken by JDAC Environment Limited on behalf of DTPW in 2000 and 2001. These studies included testing on a portion of the SYSCO property such as Coke Ovens Brook and the south/west shore of Muggah Creek. They also included detailed investigations of adjacent areas such as the Coke Ovens site that may be a source of contamination for the Sydney Steel Plant property.

Another important document is the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment of the Muggah Creek Watershed prepared for Supply and Services Canada (now Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC)) by CBCL Limited and Conestoga-Rovers and Associates (CRA) in January 1999. The Phase 1 ESA provides background information and established the framework for subsequent investigations, especially those undertaken by JDAC.

The CBCL/CRA document provides a summary of the history of development within the watershed, as well as a detailed description of the environmental, geological and meteorological conditions in the vicinity of the Muggah Creek Watershed. It also includes a discussion of previous studies, mainly related to the Tar Ponds, and a preliminary assessment of the possible nature and extent of contaminants within the watershed.

Relevant information derived from these reports, including results of testing activities, is incorporated in Section 5.0.


Looking West a the Coke Ovens and SYSCO Sites C. 1980.
Coke Ovens



Site Reconnaissance


Site reconnaissance is key to identifying and understanding potential environmental issues associated with a property, especially in the case of a site as large and complex as the steel plant. For the purposes of this report, the "site" boundaries are defined as follows:

  • To the east by Victoria Road and the former Coke Ovens site
  • To the east and north by Whitney Pier and the Cape Breton and Central N.S. Railway
  • To the north and west by Sydney Harbour
  • To the west and south by Mugah Creek
  • To the south by the Cape Breton & Central N.S. Railway and commercial lands on Terminal road

As part of the focused Phase I ESA conducted by SEACOR in July 2001, a walk through inspection of the site buildings and selected outside areas was conducted. Since July 2001, SEACOR staff has been involved with the preparation of Environmental Decommissioning Plans as part of the demolition and site cleanup project underway at the Sydney Steel Plant property. Over this time, SEACOR has had the opportunity to evaluate particular areas of the site in detail with regards to environmental issues.

All observations were made from accessible areas of the site and buildings. Certain areas of buildings were not accessed due to safety concerns or the fact that areas have been secured pending the sale of process equipment. Areas, such as the scrap storage yard and the Inglis Street lands, could not be thoroughly inspected due to the presence of snow cover in December 2001 and January 2002. Many areas of the site have been covered with blast furnace slag over the past decades in order to level a particular area, or improve its aesthetic appearance. The presence of this material may obscure evidence of potential environmental issues such as soil staining.

Detailed inspections of all areas were not conducted due to practical considerations such as diminishing returns on accumulated information, and the scope of work defined by the client. In addition, environmental decommissioning activities are progressing rapidly on the site and site conditions change on a daily basis. SEACOR has relied on knowledgeable site staff, primarily former SYSCO employees, to identify environmental issues that might not be readily apparent during a site walk through.

Significant information collected during site reconnaissance activities has been incorporated in the discussion of each Site Classification Unit (SCU) in Section 5.0.


Universal Mill and Reheat Furnace Buildings
Universal Mill and Reheat Furnace Buildings


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