Deep at the bottom of Hamilton Harbour, there is a creeping menace. It is a “spill in slow motion”, a toxic cocktail of coal tar, metals, and man-made chemicals.
Formally known as “Randle Reef”, this slowly spreading stew of pollution has been a blight on Hamilton Harbour for a generation. Clean-up should have started in 2008, but it did not.
The Reef is a mass of chemicals, coal tar, oils, and metals that creates an 80-hectare dead zone in Hamilton Harbour, near the U.S. Steel Canada property (formerly Stelco). It is, according to local experts, the second-worst coal-tar pollution site in the country.
Eric McGuinness for the Hamilton Spectator summed up the stalemate this way:
Hamilton has yet to come up with its one-third share of the Randle Reef cleanup cost more than two years after the federal and provincial governments pledged a total of $60 million. The environmental assessment is unfinished, the Hamilton Port Authority is refusing to manage the project and local officials are begging Public Works Canada to take over.
In order to ensure accountability and restoration, Stelco and/or the industrial polluters who created the problem should have been prosecuted by the federal government, argues political scientist and author Mark Sproule-Jones. He is also a guest on a new episode of Living at the Barricades.
Sproule-Jones is just one voice among many that have criticized all levels of government for the stalled cleanup recently: A scathing editorial by James Howlett calls the Reef "the stuff that nightmares are made of."
In its defence, the Hamilton Port Authority pledges leadership and promises to release the environmental assessment report later this spring.
In the meantime, cleanup costs are rising. The project started out with a $90-million budget, which has now climbed to $105-million. That's the price-tag for burying the mess where it lays ("reclaiming" the harbour). As the environmental assessment, funding, and political will flag, the price-tag continues to rise. And the spill in slow motion continues to spread.
Listen to Living at the Barricades:
Deep at the bottom of Hamilton Harbour, there is a creeping menace. It is a “spill in slow motion”, a toxic cocktail of coal tar, metals, and man-made chemicals. Formally known as “Randle Reef”, this slowly spreading stew of pollution has been a blight on Hamilton Harbour for a generation. Clean-up should have started in 2008, but it did not. Now residents, environmentalists, and reporters are asking questions. Mark and Krystyn speak with Lynda Lukasik and Mark Sproule-Jones on this episode of Living at the Barricades.
Also on Living at the Barricades this week:
It is the year 2040. You are in the middle of Lake Ontario, floating towards the Thousand Islands. What do you see? Miles and miles of uninterrupted shoreline? Or row upon row of white wind turbines? We will know the answer to that question before this year is out. It is 2010. The face of Lake Ontario is changing. We find out how and where and why, today on the show about water and democracy. Mark and Krystyn speak with Shawn Doyle and Barrie Gilbert on this episode of Living at the Barricades.