The repurposing of Watson Island moved closer to becoming a reality today as the City of Prince Rupert announced the awarding the cleanup contract to NRI Group.
The company, based in Ontario, will work toward removal of assets decommissioning of a substantial portion of the former pulp mill site with the two-year site preparation and decommissioning plan expected to begin immediately.
“We are pleased to be able to move forward with the decommissioning of the pulp mill, which will enable the site to be repurposed so that Watson Island can again contribute to the economy of Prince Rupert,” said Mayor Lee Brain.
“This is big step forward and major win for our community today.”
The request for proposals from March outlined a three-phase decommissioning and cleanup of the site.
The first phase is the demolition and salvaging of infrastructure and equipment in the terminal building, where the majority of industrial equipment with potential resale value is located. It will also include the demolition and salvaging of the power house and recaustizing and chip handling areas.
In the second phase, mechanical equipment in the pulp finishing machine room will be salvaged, along with equipment in the wood room, which will be demolished to its foundation.
The request for proposals states the first two phases would commence concurrently.
In the third phase, the hog fuel handling facilities and other structures not considered to have salvage value will be disassembled and demolished to their foundations.
The City of Prince Rupert took ownership of Watson Island in 2009 after then-owners Sun Wave Forest Products failed to paid taxes owed. When the mill was closed in 2004, court filings from 2012 indicate there was no shortage of items left on-site.
“There is a vast amount of abandoned property, such as broken-down trucks, sheets of pulp, microwave ovens, urns and kettles, boxes of dishes and utensils, cans of food and bags of dried food, and files belonging to New Skeena, some still lying open on desks,” read the filing.
“The mill looks like everyone went for a coffee break and did not come back. However, most movable equipment needed to operate the mill is still missing.”