Nestled between the Rail Finishing
Mill and the Rail Head Hardening building, this parcel of land is
occupied by the steel plant General Warehouse and the South Substation
(Figure 5-1). The Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway bounds
the area to the north, and the Victoria Road overpass borders the
area to the east. The DOMTAR and Coke Ovens sites lay approximately
20 metres to the east, beyond Victoria Road.
The area has historically been used for warehousing and steel finishing.
The parcel includes the General Warehouse, the 8 Bay Extension and
the South Substation. The General Warehouse was built around 1960,
and was truncated when the 8 Bay Rail Finishing Mill was constructed
in 1989. Prior to the 1960s a few shacks were the sole occupants
of the parcel.
Throughout its life, the General Warehouse was used for electrical,
mechanical, chemical and safety supply storage for incoming products
used at the plant. The building is constructed of a combination
of concrete, painted concrete block and steel. The roof is of steel
beam construction with fibre glass insulation. A mix of fluorescent
and incandescent lighting was observed in the building. Potential
asbestos containing floor tile was observed in the offices of the
The majority of products were removed from the General Warehouse
in 2001. Chemical and other products that had typically been stored
in the warehouse included various paints, coatings, diesel fuel
improver, plastic cement, oxidizers, spectrus, drums of grease,
cleaning supplies and safety supplies.
Drum storage occurred at the loading dock area of the General Warehouse.
These products included Petrosol, electrical insulating oil, compressor
oil, gear oil, lube oil, and general purpose oil. Surface staining
was noted around the ramp and the loading dock area. Miscellaneous
debris including empty drums, pallets, and electrical wire was observed
outside of the building. Three small cylinder-type transformers
are mounted on the north side exterior of the building.
The “New” South Substation, constructed in 1995, is
located to the east of the Rail Head Hardening Building. The substation
replaced the “Old” South Substation formerly located
in the same area. The substation consists of a fenced compound containing
transformers and electrical distribution equipment. Access inside
the fenced compound was not possible, as the facilities are active.
No evidence of spills or soil staining was noted from outside the
fenced compound. Access was permitted to the South Substation control
building. The steel-frame industrial building was constructed in
the early 1995. The transformer and alarm panel associated with
the South Substation is serviced by Nova Scotia Power Inc. SYSCO
is responcible for switch gear and protective relays.Herbicides
were apparently used to suppress vegetation in transformer compounds
from time to time (pers. comm., J. MacLean).
On May 25, 1994 a fire occurred in the “Old” South
Substation that was formerly located on the same site as the “New”
South Substation. Six PCB-containing transformers were involved
in the fire. After the fire was extinguished, a visual inspection
of the transformers was completed by NSDOE officials. The insulators
on the top of all six transformers were damaged allowing vaporized
transformer oil to escape. According to the SYSCO Environment Department
incident report, approximately 207 L of PCB - containing oil was
lost during this fire. After inspection the transformers were transferred
to SYSCO’s PCB storage building for future disposal.
The subsequent environmental sampling program revealed only three
results in excess of the applicable criteria. These samples, collected
from the surface of the transformer cabinet and the interior of
the north wall of the substation building, exceeded the allowable
dioxin concentration. No PCBs or dioxins were identified in soil
samples collected in the area between the substation and Whitney
Pier (pers. comm., J. MacLean). A subsequent demolition and cleanup
program was completed by Sanexen Environmental Services in 1994
to remove electrical equipment, debris, and the substation building