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Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan

Hamilton, Ontario

A Major Harbour Clean-Up

The Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan (commonly called the "RAP") is a detailed strategy to clean up Hamilton Harbour, which would result in the “delisting” of the harbour as an “Area of Concern.” Addressing the issue of contaminated sediment is one of the priorities of the Hamilton Harbour RAP.

Hamilton Harbour is one of 43 Areas of Concern identified in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between Canada and the United States, and under the Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. The Harbour has a legacy of contaminated sediment from past industrial and municipal discharges. Randle Reef is considered to be one of the more complex and highly contaminated sediment sites among the Canadian Areas of Concern. The Randle Reef sediments contain elevated levels of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals. Environment Canada and its partners (Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Hamilton Port Authority) have developed a multi-partnered team for the Randle Reef Contaminated Sediment Remediation engineering design.

Preventing Further Harm

The proposed remediation of Randle Reef involves the construction of an engineered containment facility about 18.5 acres in size. This would cover in-situ about 130,000 m3 of sediments contaminated with PAHs, and contain in total about 500,000 m3 of contaminated sediments from the immediate surrounding project area.

The sediment containment and cap facility will be multi-purpose. This new facility will perform an important environmental function by eliminating a dead zone at the bottom of the harbour, and by preventing further water contamination. The facility will provide new habitat for nature along one edge and a marine terminal on the other. The entire facility will be owned and operated by the Hamilton Port Authority.

The Hamilton Port Authority plays an important supporting role by providing the oversight and financial assistance to engineering design work of the containment facility.

Investing and Lending Expertise

The Hamilton Port Authority invested $1.1 million in financial and service contributions to the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan (RAP) from 2001 to 2004. These contributions were applied to public access, educational activities and habitat restoration among other projects. In addition, beginning in 1986 the port authority participated as a stakeholder in the groundbreaking work of developing and implementing the Hamilton Harbour RAP report and recommendations.

Since 1991 the Hamilton Port Authority has been active in the Bay Area Implementation Team (BAIT) and the RAP Forum (1998 to 2002). The Forum concluded that Hamilton Harbour could be cleaned up, and that with sufficient effort, the work could be completed by 2015. The port authority also contributes time and expertise to a number of RAP committees including:

  • Randle Reef Sediment Remediation
  • Sherman Inlet Restoration
  • Fish and Wildlife Habitat Restoration
  • Wildlife Management
  • Aquatic Plant Control
  • Watershed Planning Network