Canadian Consulting Engineer

News (March 01, 2004)

March 1, 2004
By Canadian Consulting Engineer



Newfoundland and Labrador ponder fixed link

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is considering building a fixed link across the Strait of Belle Isle. The strait is the narrowest point between the island and mainland Labrador to the north, and stretches about 14 miles across. A crossing would be similar to the length of Prince Edward Island’s Confederation Bridge completed seven years ago.

In January the federal government said it would help to fund a $352,000 study to examine possible routes and concepts. Memorial University’s Public Policy Research Centre has issued a request for proposals from firms interested in doing the study.

One problem facing the project is that the strait is in a remote part of the province. People living in the most populous areas of Newfoundland, around St. John’s in the east, would need to drive around 10 hours to reach the crossing point. Also the connecting transportation routes on the mainland are not developed. From Labrador there is no continuous road westward along the north shore of the St. Lawrence river in Quebec, for example, although Premier Charest has promised to build one.

In an interview with Maclean’s magazine February 16, Newfoundland Premier Danny Wilson said he is “dead serious” about the link, seeing it as a critical piece of infrastructure. “People see this as some grandiose scheme,” he said, “but they said the same thing about the Hibernia platform.”


Construction activity to remain solid

The Construction Commission of Quebec forecasts that activity in the construction industry in the province will be as good during 2004 as it was last year, around 14 million labour hours. That figure maintains levels that had not been seen previously since 1990. Although there is expected to be a decline in the industrial (-10%), residential (-4%) and civil engineering (-6%) sectors, the +4% gain in the institutional and commercial building sector compensates for the declines, since it accounts for more than 60% of total construction activity in the province.


Winners in Edmonton

Consulting Engineers of Alberta announced the winners of the 2004 Showcase Awards on February 7 at its “Mobsters, Molls and All That Jazz” gala celebration in Edmonton.

Of 19 projects recognized, the following seven won awards of excellence.

Lethbridge Landslide Hazard Reduction by AMEC Earth & Environmental; Alberta Rubber Asphalt Project by EBA Engineering; Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados, Equador by Hydroconsult; Calgary Zoo Destination Africa by Keen Engineering; Tank Farm 2 Petro-Canada Oil Sands by SNC-Lavalin; Environmental Remediation of DEW Line Sites, Inuvialuit Settlement by UMA Engineering; Rolling Hills Reservoir Enlargement by UMA Engineering and Thurber Engineering.

Awards of merit went to projects by A.D. Williams, Acres International, AMEC Earth & Environmental (3), Associated Engineering, Earth Tech (2), Hemisphere, Stantec, Stewart Weir and Techna-West.


Nexen cleans up Squamish waterfront

A four year environmental clean-up that involved 50 firms and cost millions of dollars was given a Special Environmental Award from the Province of British Columbia in January.

Oil and gas company Nexen spent more than $40 million cleaning up the 18-hectare site on the Squamish waterfront. The site was home to a chlor-alkali plant that made bleaching products for the pulp and paper industry. The factory was permanently closed in 1991, but the process had left a legacy of mercury in the groundwater and soil.

David Boulter, P.Eng., who was in charge of the project for Nexen, says they simply had to dig and remove much of the contaminated soil, which was shipped to a secure containment plant in Alberta. Because the site is next to the ocean, they had to excavate in small cells while the tide was out. They treated the ground water with feric chloride followed by carbon absorption.

Lead environmental consultants were URS Canada/URS Corporation. Lead engineering consultant was Noram Engineering. Project manager and regulatory liaison was GEMS. Other consultants involved include Golder Associates, Jecth, Morrow/Seacor and Pottinger Gaherty.

The site is now going to be redeveloped, possibly with a marina, ferry terminal, and light industrial manufacturing facilities.


Green building worth the price

California’s Sustainable Building Task Force has issued a report, “The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings.” It is described as “the most definitive cost benefit analysis of green building ever conducted.”

Led by Greg Kats, the task force represented over 40 state government agencies. They say, “the report demonstrates conclusively that sustainable building is a cost-effective investment. They found that while green design might cost about 2% more than regular designs up front, it results in an average life cycle savings of 20% on total construction costs. News477.pdf

Pipeline corrosion

The Corrosion Society in the U.S. has a new 200-page “Field Guide for Investigating Internal Corrosion of Pipelines.” It addresses misconceptions about microbiologically influenced corrosion.


Earth Rangers use earth tubes

The Earth Rangers Wildlife Centre in Kleinburg, Ontario, which opens this spring, uses large underground concrete ventilation tubes to temper the ventilation air. Similar “earth tubes” have been used in Germany and Switzerland, but never before in North America. They are almost one metre in diameter and 20 metres long, taking up 1,200 s.m. of area.

Because the earth’s temperature two metres below ground is relatively constant at 10-12C all year, the air moving through the tubes into the building will be preheated or pre-cooled depending upon the season.

The building itself is constructed of exposed load-bearing concrete slabs giving a high thermal mass, with embedded polyethylene tubes for hydronic radiant heating and cooling. The insulation is on the exterior of the concrete.

Not only is the building predicted to use 65% less energy than required by the Canadian energy code, it also saves on its use of water. It has a cast-in-place reservoir for collecting rainwater, and it treats and recycles sanitary wastewater using a membrane bioreactor and UV light.

Located at the Kortright Centre for Conservation, the building will be used to treat and give sanctuary to wild animals of every size and type. It will also be used for classes and education.

Several manufacturers and construction industry associations donated their expertise and materials. Designers include Internorth (architects and structural engineers), Marshall Macklin Monaghan and Philips Engineering (civil), MCW (electrical), Transsolar Energietechnik (energy) and Enermodal Engineering (mechanical).


Burmuda hurricane clean-up

Associated Engineering’s Burnaby office is helping the Government of Bermuda airport operations department to restore buildings hit by Hurricane Fabian. The hurricane pounded the island last September with 120 mph winds. Most of the damage was caused when a sea surge shifted truckloads of mud inside the terminal and exposed power cables to sea water. Damage to other buildings largely affected architectural components such as roofing, ceilings and overhead doors. Jodie Atkins, P.Eng. is stationed in Bermuda overseeing the work.

Hatch Mott McDonald is responsible for the demolition of all the buildings that stand in the way of the new Terminal at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. Next to come down is the original Terminal 1, an elegant building from the 1960s, which will be dismantled beginning in May.


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