Tag Archives: Canada’s Big Dirty secret

The Plan for Hamilton’s Randle Reef clean-up

Ecosystems and Randle Reef Hamilton Harbour

Saturday December 22 2012

Has Nature began its run for life

Put coal tar ‘in a big steel box

McMaster engineering professor says ‘a lot of thought has gone into it’

Hamilton Harbourtime too clean
Hamilton Harbour
time too clean

The notion of putting a lid on a mass of coal tar contamination may sound odd, but it’s actually a common method for remediating these situations, says the project manager of Randle Reef.

Jonathan Gee, manager of the Great Lakes Areas of Concern division of Environment Canada, said the plan to encase the worst part of the contamination in steel has worked in numerous other places. “Famous last words” Over two years back, we did a story about Randle Reef here at pics4twitts. The disgusting coal tar is Canada’s Big Dirty secret.

Hamilton’s Randle Reef has been so polluted It is the largest “known” deposit of Coal Tar by man anywhere in the world.

Hamilton Harbour-our home
Hamilton Harbour-our home
Randle Reef is a shallow area  in Hamilton Harbour, on Lake Ontario near U.S. Steel’s Hamilton Works that is heavily contaminated with TOXIC COAL – TAR.   I can remember working at Burlington and Wentworth Streets, and in the 1970s Stelco and Dofasco were dumping right into the Harbour, they were heavily fined and then entered large Environmental Clean-Up Projects with their steel industries.
Randle reef to be cleaned
Randle reef to be cleaned
Part of the Great Lakes shorelines being degraded is due to sediment and contaminent imputs.  A range of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) include PCBs and PAHs.  The polyaromatic (or polyclclic) aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemical compounds that consist of fused aromatic rings that do not contain heteroatoms or carry substituents.  PAHs occur in oil, coal and tar deposits and are produced as byproducts of fuel burning whether fossil fuel or biomass.  As a pollutant, PAHs, are a concern because some compounds have been identified as carcinogenic  (as Randel Reef).  PAHs are lipopilic – meaning they mix easily with oil rather than water. The larger  PAH compounds are less water-soluble and less volatile (i.e., less prone to evaporate).  Due to these properties PAHs in the Environment are found primarily in soil, sediment and oily substances, as opposed to in water or air. However, PAHs are also a component of concern in particle matter suspended in the air.  PAHs are one of the most widespread organic pollutants.  So, consider living along this area of Burlington Street in Hamilton where some families have lived for many years,  and the effects of PAHs  to aquatic and human health.
PAHs is not a new issue to researchers or to The Hamilton Port Authority, as this has been evident for at least 10 years !  For example a 2,000 study by Queen’s University addressed the risk to fish using bioavalability as the risk factor of fish and Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in sediments.  It is the sediments in Hamilton Harbour that contribute to it being on the International Join Commission’s list of Great Lakes toxic hot spots. Are you comfortable with that situation ?  I am not !  We have a magnificent Lake Ontario Harbourfront that would be the envy of many areas around the world – so if everyone did a little bit to help out as “Hamiltonian’s” it could go a long way to clean up sediment issues in Hamilton Harbour, including toxins like PAHs.  One group to contact is the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC) for further information.
will fish rebound
will fish rebound
The Queen’s University study in 2,000  found “there are protocols available for testing the acute toxicity of sediment – borne compounds to aquatic invertebrates and fish, but there are non for assessing bioavailability to fish.”  This study found sediment – borne crude oil, coal – tar, or pure  PAH caused an increase of MFO activity to TROUT FINGERLINGS exposed in a four-day bio-essay.  Think about TROUT –  because the health of a lake is determined by HEALTHY TROUT.  These researchers were aware that the trout took both organic and inorganic sediments.  So, their testing included (1) area vs volume of sediment,; (2) sediment characteristics (organic vs silt vs clay vs sand; (3) mixing and aging of spiked sediment; (4) freezing vs cold – storage of natural and spiked sediment; and, (5) establishment of gradients through sediment dilution vs sediment volume.  Their findings were “induction varies with the amount of contaminated sediment in a tank in a repeatable way.  The operational word is “repeatable” –  it will happen over and over again. Now from this study’s findings, look at Trout in Hamilton Harbour, do they swim the Harbour and oops…skip Randle Reef…hardly !  Therefore, due to Randel Reef being the second most contaminated sediment site with PAHs in Canada – all Hamiltonians including parents, and , schoolteachers training our young people’s minds  should be concerned and develop scientific projects to assist the fish and other aquatic life at Randel Reef in Hamilton Harbour so they will not swim to other areas of the Harbour and spread PAHs.
Hamilton’s own, McMaster University Department of Chemistry and Biology in a 2,000 study addressed the coal – tar contaminents in Hamilton Harbour. Their sediment sample came from Hamilton Harbour and a major contributory.  Their chemical findings were, as follows: “bioassays using a TA 100-type strain (YG 1025) were prerformed to assess genotoxicity arising from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).  Fractions exhibiting mutagenic activity contained PAH with molecular masses  =  THESE FRACTIONS CONTAINED OVER 80% OF THE GENOTOXICITY ATTRIBUTABLE TO PAH.”  That is statistically (mathematically) significant to scientific research !  They concluded ” Suspended sediments collected near areas known to contain high level of coal – tar contamination [ Randal Reef ???? ] in bottom sediments contained HIGHER LEVELS OF GENOTOXIC PAHs  than suspended sediments collected from other areas of the Harbour.   Okay, come on public, high school teachers, get the questions on the blackboard or on the laptops – Why ? and, Why Not !  Why do the bottom sediments  contain higher levels of genotoxic PAH ?  What do the coal – tar contamination contribute to PAH ?  How does this contamination affect aquatic life and the aquatic food webs in Hamilon Harbour ?  How does this highly toxic PAHS affect humans living in the Randle Reef area along Burlington Street in Hamilton ?   What further research has been developed on PAHs ?   Then develop a morning  field trip to Hamilton Port Authority and follow- up with an afternoon  section to the field trip to Hamilton Harbour with a scientist ( PhD candidate)  from McMaster University to show sediments to young students. Then have a “community appreciation night at your local school and show results of the field study to parents, local officials and the general public.”   The more we give our young Hamiltonian’s  knowledge, the more likely some of them will become scientists and discover unrevealed answers about our beautiful Hamilton Harbour.
The Beuaty of Nature
The Beuaty of Nature
All the best with the clean -up
from DW Photography
original story by
Jaqueline
Doug Worrall Photographer