Specific questions about the project or just want to know more? Please see our frequently asked question and answers for the following categories:
Please also view the following Kingston Inner Harbour Sediment Management Project presentation series for additional details.
Sediment is the soft solid material that lies under the water at the bottom of a harbour, lake, or stream. Similar to how soil can move with the wind and rain, sediment also moves and mixes over time from waves, water currents, or disturbance by people and animals.
Sediment contamination refers to the presence of chemicals in sediment at levels higher than they would normally be. Many chemicals are naturally occurring, so the presence of a chemical in sediment does not necessarily mean that contamination exists. Scientists have identified levels of chemicals in sediment that can be used to help determine what is contaminated and what is not. Presence of contamination does not mean that the sediment is polluted to dangerous levels. Instead, sediment contamination needs to be studied to determine whether it is safe or not for people and the environment, which is dependant on the area, the chemicals, and the site uses.
Past studies of water quality of the harbour have concluded that water quality is generally good compared to provincial and federal guidelines designed to protect people, fish, and wildlife. The main concern is the contaminants in the sediment that may be harmful to people, fish, and wildlife.
The chemicals of potential concern in the sediment are varied, but fall into a few categories: metals, PAHs and PCBs.
Metals in the harbour that are elevated include chromium, mercury, arsenic, and copper in some areas. These metals mainly came from historical industry along the harbour front, by either being directly deposited or washed into the harbour with surface water or ground water. For example, chromium in the harbour comes from the chrome tanning process used at the Davis Tannery that was immediately adjacent to the harbour for much of the 20th century. Metals in the harbour can pose both ecological and human health risks depending on the type and where they occur.
PAHs occur naturally in coal, crude oil, and gasoline, and are produced from burning. PAHs are a common contaminant in urban waterways, and come from numerous sources, including storm sewer outlets from road run-off, automobile exhaust, furnace/stack emissions, or spills from fuel depots/marinas. Historical coal stockpiles, oiling docks, and rail yards in Kingston Inner Harbour, along with the former coal gasification plant in downtown Kingston, are thought to be the most significant sources of PAHs to the harbour. These chemicals break down naturally (i.e., biodegrade) in the environment, but this process can take a very long time depending on the type and amount of PAHs present. PAHs in the harbour pose risks to both ecological and human health.
PCBs are human-made chemicals that were used widely in electrical equipment like capacitors and transformers, and previously found in hydraulic fluids, heat transfer fluids, lubricants, and plasticizers. PCBs were mostly washed into the harbour with surface water and groundwater running through the former Belle Landfill. Because they are toxic to people, fish, and wildlife, the import, manufacturing, and sales of PCBs were made illegal in Canada in 1977. In Kingston Inner Harbour, PCBs were most likely released into the environment through leaks from a former landfill, scrap yard, and demolition yard. Once in the environment, PCBs stick strongly to soils and lake bottoms and can be transported long distances from their original source. They also bind strongly with fatty animal tissues and magnify in the food chain, meaning they are passed into and accumulate in larger animals when they eat smaller animals. These chemicals break down (i.e., biodegrade) very slowly and can last a very long time in the environment. PCBs in the harbour pose risks to both ecological and human health.
Understanding and addressing the potential for recontamination is essential for contaminated sites projects. Most of the contamination in the harbour resulted from historical activities in surrounding areas. Residual contamination in most of those surrounding areas is being managed, or planned for management, which will help prevent future contamination of the harbour. For example, a groundwater system was installed at Emma Martin Park to prevent metals from moving into the harbour, and a leachate management system was installed at the former landfill to collect water moving through the landfill.
The conceptual sediment management plan recognizes that Kingston Inner Harbour is a working harbour and therefore may continue to receive new inputs from active uses (e.g., storm water, boat traffic, fuel spills). For that reason, the objective of the plan is to manage the contamination to lower, more acceptable, risk levels, not to remediate to pristine conditions. Ongoing sources are not expected to worsen conditions beyond the managed level, and the current environmental regulations and best practices to protect the environmental will reduce the likelihood of recontamination. The site will be monitored over the long-term to provide confidence that remaining concentrations remain stable or decrease over time.
The term “risk” means there could be harm to people and/or the environment exposed to the chemicals. It is called a risk because harm is possible, but it may not always happen, or may occur only to a small group of individuals. The amount of risk depends on the amount of exposure, pre-existing health, and other factors. An environmental risk assessment is a scientific process used to describe and estimate the chance of negative health effects (i.e., potential risks). Risk assessments tend to be conservative and error on the side of caution, as under-estimating the level of risk could have harmful consequences.
Risk refers to the chance or probability of an unwanted effect. The term “risk” means there could be harm to the health of people, wildlife, or aquatic life that are exposed to the chemicals. For humans, the main risks in the harbour are from exposure to PAHs and PCBs (metals are less of a concern, except possibly for methylmercury). High exposure to PAHs and PCBs may cause negative health effects in people—the main concern for exposure to PAHs is an increased risk of cancers, but for PCBs there are also concerns about effects to the immune system, reproductive system, the brain, glands, or organs. Metals, PAHs, and PCBs are all potential issues for fish and wildlife. Effects of exposure to these chemicals can include poor development of young animals, deformities in adult animals, and potentially death.
Nearly all human activities have some risk. The study of health risk assessment is intended to measure those risks, so that regulators and the public can understand them better, and where necessary, can reduce those risks to an acceptable level. In deciding what levels of risk are acceptable, risk assessors first evaluate whether the risks are voluntary. Most people are willing to take on higher risk to their health when they understand the nature of the risks involved and when they can exercise some control over the degree to which they take on those risks. For example, the act of driving a car has a moderate risk, yet many people accept the dangers of driving because of the benefits of driving, their understanding of those risks, and partial control over those risks. Risks of chemicals/contaminants in the environment are treated differently because they are mostly non-voluntary and invisible.
An environmental risk assessment is a scientific process used to describe and estimate the chance of negative health effects (i.e., potential risks) to human and ecological receptors (e.g., fish and wildlife). These chemical risks can result from deliberately or accidently touching, breathing in, eating, or drinking contaminants at a site. For a risk to exist, three things must be true: 1. the amount of the chemical in the environment is high enough to potentially harm organisms (people, fish, wildlife, etc.) 2. organisms that can eat or be exposed to the chemical must be at the site at least some of the time; and, 3. there must be a way for the organism to contact the chemicals. When moderate or high risks (see definitions of risk categories below) are observed in an environmental risk assessment, clean-up and/or a risk management plan is required to address the risks so that people, fish, and/or wildlife are protected.
Risk assessors categorize risks based on the level of threat to health. For human health, we look at the chance of a serious adverse health outcome (e.g., cancer) or the degree to which a long-term chemical exposure exceeds a level considered by scientists to be safe. In ecological risk assessment, a similar approach is used, and focuses on health risks to communities of animals such as fish and wildlife and their food. To help summarize risks, we often use terms such as “negligible risk”, “low risk”, “moderate risk”, and “high risk”. These categories summarize complex and detailed information into simple categories. Examples are provided below.
Negligible risk (safe for unlimited use): A risk that is so low that it can easily and confidently be concluded to be safe. For human health, this means that people can have unrestricted exposure to the site without increasing their risk in a meaningful way. For ecological health, negligible risk means animals are protected in terms of their survival or ability of grow, develop, or reproduce normally. As an example, negligible risk occurs when site contamination falls within the normal background levels for a chemical substance in water, sediment, and fish tissue.
Low risk (generally safe but with possible restrictions): A risk that is acceptable to nearly all users of the site. Exposure may exceed background levels or screening guidelines, but without causing any major threat to health. Under a low-risk condition, it is possible that a small number of individuals with very high exposure and high sensitivity could be affected. For this reason, controls may be required to keep risks low (e.g., a fish consumption advisory). For ecological risk assessment, low risk means that a small number of individuals of common species might have minor responses, but the populations and communities remain healthy, diverse, and productive.
Moderate risk (may be unsafe): A risk that is considered unacceptable in the long-term, based on the potential for damage to health. A moderate risk does not represent an emergency, or even definitive evidence of harm to health, but instead requires a careful plan to reduce exposure. For human health, moderate risk occurs when people consume more than a daily recommended intake of a substance. For ecological health, moderate risk means that adverse effects are expected to individuals of sensitive species, which may or may not result in a less healthy population.
High risk (clearly unsafe): A risk that is unacceptable, has clear evidence of health threat, and that requires fast action to reduce exposure. An example of a high risk that can occur in everyday life is contamination of meat or produce by bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli). Under certain conditions, food products can be contaminated to a degree that requires a response from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to protect public health. The same principle applies to contamination by chemicals, such that high risks from spills or concentrated areas of chemicals can require a fast response. For ecological health, high risk conditions can occur from an environmental spill, requiring prompt action to prevent widespread environmental damage.
There is no health emergency or need for urgent action. Risks to human health are considered moderate, but not severe, and would persist for decades if not managed. There is time to carefully develop a sediment management plan for Kingston Inner Harbour to reduce the risks to an acceptable level. Water quality remains acceptable and does not require management separate from the sediment management plan. If people do not eat a lot of local fish and do not have regular contact with the contaminated sediments, the risk is low. A fish consumption advisory is in place (https://www.ontario.ca/page/eating-ontario-fish). Most recreational activities in and around the harbour, like boating, kayaking, rowing, and hiking, are safe if skin contact with sediment is minimized or avoided. People should avoid touching the sediments (including contact through swimming). If sediment does contact your skin, it is recommended that you rinse it off and wash your hands before eating.
Most recreational activities in and around the harbour, like swimming, boating, kayaking, rowing, and hiking, are considered safe since contact with the sediment is minimized or avoided during these activities. People should avoid touching the sediments and eating anything that may have touched the sediments. If sediment does contact your skin while you are using the harbour, simply rinse it off and wash your hands before eating.
Although the presence of turtles and other wildlife in the harbour is a good sign that the sediment is not causing severe or acute toxicity to wildlife, it may be causing underlying health conditions or community-level impacts that may not be easily seen or observed in all of the population. Effects of wildlife exposure to metals, PAHs and PCBs can include poor development, decreased reproduction rates, deformities or tumors, and mortality. For example, physical abnormalities, such as skin tumors, have been seen in some brown bullhead fish in the harbour that are likely caused by contact with the sediment.
Most recreational activities in and around the harbour, like swimming, boating, kayaking, rowing, and hiking, are safe if skin contact with sediment is minimized or avoided. People should avoid touching the sediments and eating anything that may have touched the sediments. If sediment does contact your skin, simply rinse it off with site water or a shower, and wash your hands before eating. Consumption of fish from the inner harbour is not recommended, and anglers are advised to consult the Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish (www.ontario.ca/environment-and-energy/eating-ontario-fish) for identification of areas in the Kingston region where consumption risks for fish flesh are lower.
There are many standard and acceptable environmental controls and practices available to safely remove contaminated sediments. Dredging is a safe and common practice for removing contaminated sediment and has been effectively done in harbours throughout North America. Dredging can be conducted by using a closed bucket to prevent losing sediment as it is brought up, or through suction dredging using a vacuum-like pump to remove the sediment. As part of the detailed design process, technologies best suited to each area will be selected, and an environmental management plan will be prepared to prevent contaminants from spreading. An environmental management plan describes how project activities will be conducted safely and what environmental controls must be in place during the project to prevent any unintended environmental effects, such as water or sediment quality impacts, physical danger to wildlife, or damage to archaeological values. Environmental controls, such as sediment curtains will be used to prevent the transport of suspended sediments outside of work areas. Environmental monitoring, including water and sediment quality outside of the dredging areas, will be conducted to confirm that chemicals are not spread into other areas of the harbour or beyond.
The environmental management plan (to be prepared as part of detailed design) will outline measures to prevent resuspended sediments from impacting outlying areas of the harbour or beyond. Typically, this includes the use of sediment curtains at all times when dredging is occurring and requires that water quality meet background ranges and/or approved water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life outside of the areas actively being dredged. Environmental monitoring and sampling for water quality will be done during dredging to verify that the above conditions are met. These measures, which combine engineering approaches with best management practices, are commonly applied in sediment excavation and capping projects and have been shown to be effective at containing resuspended sediments.
Dredging is a standard and reliable technique for removing contaminated sediment that has been used for clean-up at hundreds of aquatic contaminated sites throughout North America. Examples of recently completed successful clean-ups of aquatic contaminated sites using dredging include the Esquimalt Harbour Remediation Project in Esquimalt, BC (https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/maple-leaf/defence/2020/12/esquimalt-harbour-remediation-project-reaches-major-ilestone.html ), Rock Bay in Victoria Harbour, BC (https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/federal-contaminated-sites/success-stories.html#rock)), and the Hudson River in New York State (the largest environmental dredging project completed in North America; https://www.hudsondredging.com)
These details will be developed further during the detailed design phase. Generally, dredged sediment will first be dewatered, or dried out slightly, so that it is more stable to transport and then will likely be transported by haul trucks to approved and regulated landfills for disposal. Depending on the dewatering process selected, material may also be stabilized and solidified to bind the contaminants in a solid form, and make the material more easily transported by trucks and/or barges. Any water generated during the dewatering process will be tested and treated if necessary. Disposal facility(ies), once selected, will hold a valid and subsisting permit, license, certificate, approval, or any other form of authorization issued by a Facility Regulator (i.e., federal or provincial government) for the handling and disposal of contaminated or Hazardous Waste Quality Materials (if required). During detailed design, staging areas will be developed to balance considerations of traffic flow, work area, access to on-water equipment and the potential environmental concerns. As part of the design package and impact assessment process, an environmental management plan will be prepared to ensure that the mitigation measures and constraints of the impact assessment are met and that the material is appropriately transported and disposed of.
A Detailed Impact Assessment (DIA) will be completed, consistent with Parks Canada’s Impact Assessment Directive and the requirements of the Canadian Impact Assessment Act (https://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/I-2.75/index.html), to determine whether any aspects of the recommended plan would be likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. The DIA will consider potential changes to the environment that are likely to be caused by the project, technically and economically feasible mitigation measures that would prevent or minimize adverse effects, and the impact that the project may have on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The DIA will include formal consultation with Indigenous communities and a public comment period. The Detailed Impact Assessment may result in further design changes if it is found that there is the potential for significant negative results on the environment from the current proposed design. The need for removing and/or containing chemicals will be balanced with respect for the environment, especially areas of sensitive or valued habitats. It is recognized that some of the shoreline areas contain features or habitats of greater sensitivity, such as shipwrecks of archaeological value, wetland and marsh areas, or shoreline areas used by turtles, birds, and other wildlife for nesting, feeding, and basking. The upcoming refinement to the sediment management plan and eventual detailed design will recognize these sensitive areas and proposes different, and less intrusive, methods for sediment management. In some areas, dredging may be excluded entirely to avoid potential unacceptable alteration of habitat.
The need for removing chemicals will be balanced with respect for the environment, especially areas of sensitive or valued habitats. It is recognized that some of the shoreline areas contain habitats of greater sensitivity, such as wetland and marsh areas, or shoreline areas used by turtles, birds, and other wildlife for nesting, feeding, and basking. The conceptual sediment management plan recognizes these sensitive areas and proposes different, and less intrusive, methods for sediment management. In some areas, dredging may be excluded entirely to avoid unacceptable alteration of habitat. There may also be habitat gains through this project in the restoration of shorelines or other low value habitats. These will be further developed in the upcoming refinement to the sediment management plan and further into detailed design.
Removal of the contaminated sediment is the best way to permanently reduce the health risks. The need for removing chemicals will be balanced with respect for the environment, especially areas of sensitive or valued habitats. For example, the sediment will be removed when fish are not spawning and turtles not moving across the work area. Sensitive habitats will be identified and considered carefully in the further development of the sediment management plan and impact assessment. There may also be habitat gains through this project in the restoration of shorelines or other low value habitats. These will be developed in the upcoming refinement to the sediment management plan and further into detailed design.
As part of the project planning and stakeholder engagement process, businesses operating in the harbour will be contacted to ensure the project team has a good understanding of their operational needs, so that potential impacts to operations associated with the project can be identified and managed.
No - sediment management projects such as these are very safe and the technologies being proposed (such as dredging) are common practice for removing contaminated sediment from harbours. The project will utilize appropriate environmental controls such as sediment curtains, and environmental monitoring, including taking measurements for water quality and sediment quality outside of the dredging areas, will also be conducted to confirm that chemicals harmful to people, fish, or wildlife are not spread into other areas of the harbour or into Lake Ontario where most of Kingston’s drinking water comes from.
Details of the monitoring program will be developed as planning progresses. Federal monitoring programs for this type of work typically involves intensive daily monitoring during project implementation to ensure compliance with the project’s prescribed environmental protection plan, followed by short-term annual monitoring (~1–5 years) and a long-term monitoring component (~10+ years) with a reduced frequency to confirm that habitat restoration has been successful and that sediment management goals continue to be met.
As part of the project planning and stakeholder engagement process, businesses operating in the harbour will be contacted to ensure the project team has a good understanding of their operational needs, so that potential impacts to operations associated with the project can be identified and managed. This information will be incorporated into detailed design and project implementation plans. Given the project is still in the planning stages, exact schedule and impact to business operations are still unknown; however, we will work with business operating in the harbour to minimize and/or eliminate impacts to their operations.
A complex history of industrial activity in areas surrounding Kingston Inner Harbour resulted in contamination of sediments (material lining the lake bottom) in Transport Canada, Parks Canada, and City of Kingston water lots. The chemicals of concern include metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The chemicals are mostly from historical land uses, including a former rail yard, landfill, coal gasification plant, tannery, lead smelter, shipyards, fuel and oil docks, scrap/demolition yards, and other industrial activities. Scientific studies have concluded that the contamination in the Kingston Inner Harbour may pose risk to humans, fish, birds, mammals, and other aquatic life. Despite several decades of being left to recover, several areas have not recovered enough to be safe, and continued recovery will be very slow if no sediment management action is taken.
Sediment investigations and risk assessments were completed following standard federal and provincial guidance, which kept the methods consistent with other assessments across Canada. The guidance included the Canada-Ontario Decision-Making Framework for Assessment of Great Lakes Contaminated Sediment (ttps://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2010/ec/En164-14-2007-eng.pdf) and the Framework for Addressing and Managing Aquatic Contaminated Sites under the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/pnw-ppe/fcsap-pascf/docs/1-eng.htm). Federal Expert Support Departments (including Public Services and Procurement Canada, Health Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada) reviewed the investigations and provided technical support to Parks Canada and Transport Canada during these studies. Where warranted, adjustments were made to the technical reports to respond to the technical input of the Federal Expert Support Departments, prior to making recommendations for clean-up or management. Independent investigations were also undertaken by the Environmental Sciences Group of the Royal Military College over the last decade and a half, including scientific studies and interpretation. The results and recommendations of their studies were also reviewed in a similar way and were broadly consistent with those completed by the federal waterlot owners, providing additional confidence that the outcomes of the investigation are scientifically sound.
The strategy was designed to balance the least amount of environmental disturbance with the greatest degree of contaminant risk removed. With this in mind, the conceptual sediment management plan includes leaving sediments alone for most of the harbour, because the risks in most areas are low. Physical management (including areas of dredging, capping or shoreline engineering) was selected only in areas where risks are greatest to people, fish, or wildlife. Although sometimes nature can heal itself by either breaking down contaminants or slowing burying them with cleaner deposits, these processes may not be fully effective and can take a very long time. In Kingston Inner Harbour, the burial of contaminated sediment is very slow, as sediments are frequently stirred up by waves, ice, fish, and human activities.
Yes, the strategy follows scientific investigation methods, combined with a standardized approach used for contaminated federal sediments across Canada. The process for the sediment management plan was based on guidance developed by both the Canadian and Provincial governments (Canada-Ontario Decision-Making Framework for Assessment of Great Lakes Contaminated Sediment and Framework for Addressing and Managing Aquatic Contaminated Sites under the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan). This guidance provides a science-based ecosystem approach to sediment assessment and considers potential effects on sediment-dwelling and aquatic organisms, as well as potential for contamination to accumulate in the food chain. The Framework used was intended to standardize the decision-making process while also being flexible enough to account for site-specific considerations. In addition to providing a tiered scientific process of investigation, the Framework includes some guiding principles that have been applied to the strategy, which include: (1) that it shall be applied within the context of common sense (not applied inflexibly); (2) that potential sources of ongoing contamination are addressed before undertaking clean-up; and (3) that the impacts of the plan do not cause more environmental harm than good.
No, the plan is currently at the concept stage, and will be refined based on feedback from Indigenous communities, local stakeholders, and the public, as well as results from further biological, chemical and archeological studies of the harbour.
The conceptual sediment management plan proposes to leave sediments alone for most of the inner harbour, because the risks to people, fish, and wildlife in most areas are low. Removal of the sediment was selected only in those areas where the risks were scientifically determined to be above safe levels to people, fish, and/or wildlife. The conceptual sediment management plan also balances the desire to limit the amount of environmental disturbance, and limit the costs and disruptions associated with the clean-up, while accomplishing a meaningful level of chemical risk reduction. Some sediment needs to be removed (i.e., dredged) because it contains high concentrations of contaminants that can be harmful to living organisms. These contaminants can persist in the environment for a long time and treating sediment in place is very difficult. Fish may eat items that have been exposed to the sediment contamination, and birds or people could then eat the fish. Also, the contaminants might touch the skin of people that wade or swim in the harbour, or people could swallow the sediment by accident. By carefully removing areas of sediment with high concentrations of contaminants, while using environmental controls to prevent spreading of these contaminants throughout the harbour, we can reduce the amount of contamination in the harbour and the risks to people, wildlife, fish, and their food.
Although sometimes nature can heal itself by either breaking down contaminants or slowly burying them with cleaner deposits, these processes may not be fully effective and/or can take a very long time in areas where contaminant inputs have overwhelmed nature’s capacity to heal. In Kingston Inner Harbour (KIH), the answer depends on the section of the harbour, as the contamination differs among areas of the harbour with respect to both overall magnitude of contamination and combinations of chemicals present. In a significant portion of the harbour, the level of contamination is low enough that the slow ongoing processes of degradation and burial are sufficient. However, in other areas the degree of contamination has exceeded nature’s capacity to recover naturally; the continued presence of moderate to high levels of some chemicals, despite the legacy source being discontinued, shows that natural river processes on their own, although important, have not yielded a reduced acceptable risk over a reasonable time frame. In KIH, the burial of contaminated sediment is very slow, as sediments are frequently stirred up by waves, ice, fish, and human activities. These areas are also an ongoing source of contamination to the cleaner areas because the sediments are redistributed throughout the harbour, as documented by the sediment transport investigations.
The objective of the sediment management project is to provide a level of protection that is sufficient for many users of the harbour, including humans and animals. Although some can make use of the harbour now in the way they would prefer or require, some cannot. In some areas of the harbour, there are visible impairments (e.g., fish deformities, aquatic community disturbance), some risks that are not easily visible (e.g., long-term human health effects), and the range of uses for recreation (e.g., wading, swimming, and fishing) is limited.
It is neither possible nor necessary to remove 100% of the contaminants. Low levels of chemical are safe and common in active harbours and urban environments. The goal is to remove the sediments with the highest amounts of chemicals to reduce the risks to an acceptable level. The level deemed safe is based on science and the protection goals for the harbour. Reaching safe levels will be monitored during and after the project to verify that the methods chosen work as intended.
Remediation typically involves removing contaminants from a site through on-site treatment or off-site disposal. Risk management typically involves managing contaminants in place, using covers and/or measures to block the exposure pathways identified as causing a potential risk. Often, risk management does not require any physical changes to the environment, but rather monitoring the conditions of recovery over time. Both remediation and risk management strategies are designed to reduce risks, and both strategies can be protective of human and ecological health. Various factors (e.g., engineering feasibility, financial responsibility, legal considerations) must be considered when choosing which remediation and/or risk management option(s) to use. Remediation and risk management measures can be used either alone or in combination to successfully manage risks in an environmentally and financially responsible manner.
Some of the highest concentrations of PAHs and PCBs in the harbour are in shoreline areas that are easily accessible to people. Shoreline works are being proposed to reduce the levels of these nearshore contaminants and prevent accidental contact with the sediment. The benefit of these removals is greater than for central harbour areas that are contacted less frequently by humans. The project team will be looking for opportunities for habitat conservation gains that will improve existing habitat and address present ecological impairments. Shoreline plantings and other natural options for shoreline areas will be considered as part of detailed design.
There will be no additional restrictions to humans or wildlife after the project is complete; however, the consumption advisory for fish will remain as the contamination from Kingston Inner Harbour alone is not the primary driver for the fish consumption advisory.
Project timelines will be confirmed during the design process. Currently, we are undertaking Indigenous and public consultation on the conceptual sediment management plan. It is estimated that detailed design for the project and environmental impact assessment will begin in 2023, and physical works could begin in 2025; however, this is subject to change as planning progresses. Physical works are anticipated to take 2–3 years to complete. Once the physical works are complete, long-term monitoring of the site will take place. Click here to visit the “Project Timeline” section for more details.
The intent of the sediment management project is not to combat erosion, but rather to reduce the potential for exposure to nearshore contaminants, while also preventing shoreline work from negatively impacting wildlife habitat capacity (e.g., turtle access to laying areas). The project team will be looking for opportunities for habitat conservation gains that will improve existing habitat and address present ecological impairments. Riparian plantings and natural options for shoreline areas will be considered as part of detailed design.
Various “softer” shoreline management options can and will be considered to ensure the shoreline incorporates riparian habitat, is functional for wildlife (i.e., maintains turtle access to laying areas), and reduces the potential for exposure to nearshore contaminants. Specific design of shoreline features will be completed during the detailed design phase and will include consideration of feedback received during Indigenous and stakeholder engagement, as well as engineering factors, hydrological processes, and beneficial habitat features. It is understood that the City of Kingston has shoreline improvements planned for the area, and those improvements could be coordinated with the sediment management project. The sediment management plan is in the conceptual phase, and as such, there is flexibility in design options for shoreline features. Options will be refined through to detailed design, based on feedback from Indigenous and stakeholder engagement activities, and results of ongoing studies, including development of the DIA. The ongoing inventory of ecological resources and habitat mapping will be particularly important in refining shoreline plans. Where specific areas of sensitivity are identified, they will be accounted for in the design.
The answer depends on the area of the harbour and the nature of the sediment under the proposed dredged layers, but yes, placement of clean sediment is among the options being considered for several portions of the harbour. The clean sediment would not be a thick layer, but could be thin layers of either clean sand, siltier natural material (with more organic carbon), or a special layer of material (with activated carbon) designed to reduce chemical uptake and with desirable properties for invertebrate recolonization. The sediment management program will also include a post-management monitoring component, whereby sediment contamination and the recolonization by aquatic plants and invertebrates of natural habitats will be monitored to confirm the project objectives have been achieved. Should recolonization of dredge habitat not perform as expect, additional mitigation measures may be implemented to fast track this restoration. The details of the potential cover design will be outlined in the detailed design phase.
Archaeological assessments, including desktop evaluations, geophysical surveys, and visual inspections, are underway to ensure areas and objects of archeological significance (including shipwrecks) are appropriately identified as part of project planning. Geophysical surveys will capture high resolution imagery and mapping of features located on the bottom of the harbour, and may identify submerged features buried under the sediment. A Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) will be utilized to collect visual data during investigations. This information will be used to assess the context and possible cultural significance of features and to help guide the development of mitigation measures that will ensure impacts to these objects of archeological significance can be avoided. Techniques and instruments being used include multi-beam echo sounding (MBES), side-scan sonar, marine magnetometer and sub-bottom profiler.