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Phase1 - Environmental Site Assessment



Geology and Hydrogeology


Bedrock geology for the study area is mapped as Point Edward Formation of the Canso Group. Bedrock of the Point Edward Formation typically consists of red and minor grey-green variably calcareous siltstone and sandstone and limestone (Geological Map of the Sydney Basin, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Department of Mines and Energy, 1986).

Surficial geology for the study area is mapped as being underlain with sandy glacial till over bedrock (Surficial Geology of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Geological Survey of Canada, 1988).

Based on recent environmental investigations in the vicinity of the site, slag and fill deposits overly areas of Sydney Harbour and Muggah Creek. Much of the southern end of the Steel Plant facility, between the Victoria Road overpass and Muggah Creek, also consists of fill. At various location, the fill is reported to contain iron and steel debris, clinker, ash, coal, brick, general refuse, wood and miscellaneous construction debris.

The fill and slag material is described as being loose to compact and relatively porous. Estimated and known thickness of the fill and slag material are as deep as 22 meters and the bottom of the slag material has been measured four to six meters below sea level in the High Dump area (NDA/JWA, 1990 & CBCL/CRA, 1999). In most site areas, fill is likely less than four metres in depth.

A regional study of hydrogeologic conditions in the Sydney Coalfield area was completed in 1986 (Baechler, 1986). Data contained in the study can be used to provide relative hydrogeological and hydraulic conductivity of the main hydrogeological units located in the study area. Local surficial groundwater movement and flow at the site is likely controlled by underground utilities, building foundations, fill and other man-made structures. Overall groundwater flow is expected to follow topography and move in a southwest direction.

No groundwater spring or seeps have been identified on the site. A small pond located in the slag reclamation area in the northwest corner of the site contains standing water that reportedly fluctuates with the tidal cycle.(pers. comm., D. Hemmings). The ground surface around the pond is located and the pond itself is located approximately 250 metres from the shore of Muggah Creek. This information indicates that the slag fill may be highly permeable, and the water table within the fill is hydraulically connected to Sydney Harbour.



Wells and Water Supply


Based on a review of NSDEL records, and discussion with NSDEL and former SYSCO staff, no domestic wells are located on the site, or within 500 metres of the site. Several environmental groundwater monitoring wells are located within the Muggah Creek Watershed. The wells were installed as part of the Phase II and III Environmental Site Assessment of the Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens site completed on behalf of DTPW.

SYSCO currently maintains water rights for Grand Lake and Sydney River as surface water supplies for industrial and domestic purposes at the plant. In addition, SYSCO provides treated potable water from the same water supply to a group of nearby residential properties not serviced by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.



Potential Receptors


As with any construction or industrial operation, certain air, liquid or noise emissions may result from current activities on the Sydney Steel Plant property. In addition, subsurface impacts may be present as a result of historical activities on the site. As part of this Phase 1 ESA, SEACOR has identified several potential human and environmental receptors that may be impacted by existing conditions and ongoing activities:

  • Adjacent residential areas such as Whitney Pier, Ashby, and the north end of Sydney (on the west side of Muggah Creek)
  • Employees and customers of adjacent commercial and industrial areas located in the Terminal Road and Prince Street area
  • Employees, contractors and visitors to the Sydney Steel Plant property
  • Resident wildlife and stray animals inhabiting the steel plant property
  • Muggah Creek, Sydney Harbour and associated ecosystems.

During the current demolition and clean-up project, the minimization and monitoring of potential emissions has been given a high priority. Air monitoring equipment has been placed at both the site perimeter and adjacent to active demolition areas. The results of this monitoring program are reviewed by SEACOR and Ernst & Young staff, reported to NSDEL on a regular basis, and made available to the site Joint Occupation Health & Safety Committee.

To date no guideline or regulatory limits have been exceeded. In the event that a guideline or regulatory limit is exceeded, site protocols dictate that the results be reported to the Ernst & Young Project Manager and NSDEL immediately.

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