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Phase1 - Environmental Site Assessment






 Current Land Uses


The Former Sydney Steel Plant Lands are located in Sydney, Nova Scotia (Figure 1-1). For the purpose of this report, the study area, or “site”, consists of all lands on or adjacent to the Sydney Steel Plant that are currently owned by the Sydney Steel Corporation. The site also includes lands on or adjacent to the plant property that are now under the control of the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW), including the Blast Furnace/Incinerator Property, the High Dump Tank Farm, lands adjacent to Ferry Street, the Cooling Pond Area, and lands adjacent to Inglis Street.

Situated in the north-central part of Sydney, the site lies between Muggah Creek (the Tar Ponds) and Whitney Pier. The north end of downtown Sydney is located across Muggah Creek to the west. The SYSCO docks, located at the northwest end of the site, border Sydney Harbour.

The steel plant site is located near the mouth of Coke Ovens Brook and the Wash Brook, which are two of the main outlets of the Muggah Creek Watershed. The watershed comprises an area of approximately 2410 hectares that includes land uses such as residential/parkland, commercial, institutional, waste management and heavy industrial (CBCL/CRA, 1999).

The current plant site encompasses an area of approximately 170 hectares (420 acres). The main processes at the plant included an electric arc furnace, continuous caster, bloom reheating furnace and rail milling facilities. Historically the fully integrated plant produced coke and coke by-products, pig iron, bulk steel in the form of ingots and blooms, and finished products such as rails, bars, rods, tie plates, wire and nails.

When the plant ceased operations in 2000, the facility was based on Electric Arc Furnace Steel Making. Iron units were obtained in the form of scrap iron and steel, direct reduced iron (DRI) or granulated pig iron. Scrap was received by ship at the dock facility or at the scrap storage area in rail cars or trucks. The scrap was checked for radioactivity, weighed, and stockpiled for later delivery to the Electric Arc Furnace.

Liquid steel was produced with the Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) process. In later phases of melting, additional fluxes, carbon and oxygen were injected into the furnace to produce a thick, foamy slag. The slag helped refine the steel by flushing out unwanted elements such as sulphur, phosphorous and silicon into a slag post below the furnace.

The next stage of the process involved Ladle Refining, Ladle Degassing and the Bloom Caster. All these processes are located with the Melt Shop/Caster Building (“Steel Shop”). The principal process units in the Steel Shop include a 125/150 ton bottom tapping electric arc furnace (EAF), a scrap bucket preheater, a ladle refining arc furnace, a tank-type ladle degasser, and a 3-strand caster.

Blooms were conveyed from the Continuous Caster to the Reheat Furnace where a uniform temperature was achieved. Next,the steel was rolled into rails in the Universal Mill line. In addition to rail production the mill was also capable of rolling certain tie plate and mine arch sections. The finished products were then transferred by rail or vessel to overseas and domestic markets.


Looking North at the Steel Shop
Steel Shop




Typography and Surface Water


The site is located within the Muggah Creek watershed, which is part of a coastal lowland that drains to Sydney Harbour. The site is very flat within the plant area, with the exception of a significant elevation change at the High Dump and areas of slag disposal. Very little of the surficial topography of the site can be considered natural due to the history of industrial activity. Large areas of the site are covered with imported fill material including slag, construction rubble and miscellaneous fill and waste.

The Coke Ovens Brook and the Wash Brook empty into Muggah Creek, a tidal estuary that covers an estimated area of 33 hectares, before emptying into Sydney Harbour. A large portion of the estuary has been infilled over the years with slag from steel plant operations. No significant surface water bodies are located on the steel plant properties. Catch basins and underground stormwater drainage systems are located across the site.

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