The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency took a major step toward the cleanup of the Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens today, June 29, calling for expressions of interest in the engineering design of the $400-million project. The successful bidder will also be responsible for managing construction contracts during the cleanup. “It’s a great milestone,” said Ron Russell, minister responsible for the agency. “This contractor will translate the project description released earlier this year into detailed engineering designs, and then supervise their implementation. This cleanup is on the move.” A request for expressions of interest is the first stage in a two-part process for awarding major tenders. The agency will evaluate and rank bidders who express interest, and then invite detailed proposals from the top three to five companies. The expressions of interest phase closes on Wednesday, Aug. 31. A request for proposal will follow and will be completed by the end of year. The contract that results from this two-stage tendering process will include preliminary design of the cleanup, detailed design, preparation of documents for construction contracts, and supervision of the construction work. It will also include a variety of consulting and advisory services, and project management. The request for expressions of interest requires bidders to set forth their experience in cleaning up former industrial sites, and a host of skills including environmental engineering, hydrology, engineering design, project management, scheduling, cost estimating and control, risk management, construction administration, quality assurance, hazardous material handling, and regulatory compliance. A joint federal-provincial environmental assessment of the cleanup is currently underway. The ultimate design of the project will reflect any changes that may result from that assessment. The current cleanup plan for the Tar Ponds, devised jointly by Environment Canada and the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, calls for the removal and destruction of the worst contaminants in an approved incinerator to be located at the former Victoria Junction Coal Wash Plant. Remaining materials would be stabilized and solidified in place, and then contained within an engineered containment system. At the Coke Ovens, the plan is to treat surface soils with land farming, a form of bioremediation, and then contain the site within an engineered containment system.