Dredging company is at odds with Sarnia over harbour project

Ocean Dredging says it is owed more for its work; City says it did more than what was called for

The City of Sarnia is in a dispute with contractors for the total cost of dredging material from Sarnia Harbour and its subsequent handling. This photo was taken December 7, 2016.

The City of Sarnia is being billed more for work related to dredging Sarnia Harbour than it originally contracted, resulting in a dispute that could result in substantially more than the $2.96 tender that issued to Ocean Dredging DM Inc. of Quebec.

Scott McEachran, the City of Sarnia’s lawyer, says the company contracted to dredge the Sarnia Harbour starting in September 2016 removed even more than what staff reported to City Council in April 2017.

Reports of an extra 1,800 cubic metres of sediment compared with an original estimate of 30,000 cubic metres have been quoted.

But it may be the nature of the material that is the real issue.

Jason Irving, who works for Cedarfalls Building Consultants, a subcontractor on the project who, like Ocean Dredging, has registered a lien against Sarnia Harbour, said what was ultimately removed from the harbour accounts for the extra cost.

After several months of letting material dry at the airport, workers used equipment to level out the now-dry material. This photo was taken Sept. 16, 2017.

“The overdredge portion is a very small amount,” Irving has been quoted as saying.

What was dredged was silt, not the sand and gravel that contractors expected.

For two reasons, one being that silt does not drain quickly and the other being that the material was said to contain “minimal” amounts of metals, hydrocarbons and pesticides, the material couldn’t be left by the harbour to drain before being trucked to City-owned property at the Chris Hadfield Airport.

That was the original plan—to truck dry soil across the City.

Instead, sealed trucks were forced to essentially haul soggy silt, apparently accounting for the extra cost.

At this point, discussions with both parties are continuing, although Ocean Dredging reportedly has registered a lien amounting to nearly $4 million.

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  • Opinionated3

    The question is, how was the material to be dredged described in the tender documents? If not described as silt, of a specific quantity and quality, then the City, and thus its staff, is at fault. If the City is at fault then why has the City retained expensive legal counsel to argue an unwinnable case just as it did when the City argued about the true ownership of the General Hospital when it knew that the City already owned it?

  • Stephen Barry White

    so why couldnt the silt drain at the bay before removal? The article eludes that there was a specific reason that they had to get the silt moved quickly… just wondering why if the bill is over a million dollars more just to move it youd think they would scrap the sealed tractor trailer idea and just let it drain before removal.