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Public input sought for Thunder Bay harbour mercury remediation (2 Photos)

A meeting to present revised options is scheduled for Feb. 26, 2020.

THUNDER BAY — The committee trying to find a way to remediate nearly 400,000 cubic metres of mercury-contaminated sediment in Thunder Bay's north harbour is ready to present its latest ideas to the public.

A working group representing government and local agencies has made changes to the options that were outlined to city council in February 2019.

Details will be presented at two meetings scheduled for Wed. Feb. 26 at the Delta Waterfront Hotel.

Samuel Pegg, coordinator of the government-funded Remedial Action Plan, says that over the past year some new engineering studies were conducted.

"They're costing out some of the things, refining what the actual definition of a few of them are, and coming back to see which of the three or four shortlisted options there is public support for," Pegg said Wednesday.

The contaminated sediment was deposited at the bottom of the harbour over decades during the operation of a paper mill near the mouth of the Current River.

The former Abitibi mill was demolished several years ago. The property is now owned by Wilderness North, a company that operates an air service and a chain of fly-in fishing lodges. 

Previously-announced mitigation options include dredging the sludge and transferring it to a confined disposal facility at Mission Bay, disposing of it on-site using one of three methods, and building a berm as an in-place barrier around the sediment before filling it with clean material.

There's still no timeline for the work, and no committed funding.  

A federal government representative has estimated that engineering design work alone will take two years, once the preferred option is selected.

Current River ward councillor Andrew Foulds has said he was told the project will cost between $30 million and $80 million.

Also still to be decided is who will have responsibility for monitoring and maintaining any containment infrastructure.

There's enough contaminated sediment on the harbour bottom to fill 150 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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