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Contaminant Containment and Remediation Techniques to Permafrost Sites
Andrew Thalheimer, Indra Kalinovic, Laura Tupper-Ring
Dillon Consulting Limited
The objective of this presentation is to provide an overview of the pending publication that provides guidance on how to address contaminated sites in permafrost regions in Canada; specifically, those sites where thawing permafrost will likely affect the approach to closure and/or completed remedial works and risk management measures that have depended on permafrost as a barrier to contaminant migration.  

In response to climate change and the associated effects on permafrost, the Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment (CCME) Soil Quality Guidelines Task Group and Permafrost Working Group have been undertaking a multi-phase project to develop guidance on containment and remediation techniques appropriate to contaminated sites in permafrost regions. This presentation will provide an overview of the pending publication that provides guidance on how to address contaminated sites in permafrost regions in Canada; specifically, those sites where thawing permafrost will likely affect the approach to closure and/or completed remedial works and risk management measures that have depended on permafrost as a barrier to contaminant migration. The guidance and, hence, this presentation, addresses contaminant fate and transport in permafrost regions; the effects of climate change on contaminant migration; the applicability of the Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines; the remediation and risk management approaches used in permafrost regions to limit contaminant migration and remediate contaminated soil; the monitoring requirements to monitor the long-term effectiveness and integrity of remedial works in permafrost; and, the implications of thawing permafrost on closure and long-term liability of contaminated sites. In addition, the presentation will also discuss the emerging contaminants, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), in the context of permafrost regions and contaminated sites, landfills, wastewater treatment plants, and biosolids.

Indra Kalinovic, Partner and Technical Services Lead for Environmental Site Investigation and Risk Evaluation, Dillon Consulting Limited
Indra Kalinovic is a Partner and the Technical Services Lead for Environmental Site Investigation and Risk Evaluation at Dillon Consulting Limited, where she practices in the Winnipeg, Manitoba office as a hydrogeochemist. She holds a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Queen’s University. She is an Engineer-in-Training (Professional Engineers Ontario) and a Chartered Chemist (Association of the Chemical Profession of Ontario). In addition to her role at Dillon, she is an adjunct professor with the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Manitoba. She has over 15 years of experience in the assessment and management of contaminated sites in the Canadian north, with a firm foothold in both the academic and consulting worlds to provide a unique, technical perspective.

Deep Freeze – Accounting for Potential Climate Changes in the Freeze
Tauhid-Brian Thomas, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
The objective of this presentation is to provide an overview of how the Giant Mine Remediation Project plans on containing 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide dust stored underground and how climate change affected the design. The main focus will be on how the project will construct a frozen shell around the contained dust using passive thermosyphons incorporating climate change models that project out 100 years.  

Giant Mine is located in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (NWT) approximately five kilometres north of the city centre. The mine produced gold from 1948 until 1999, and ore for off-site processing from 2000 until 2004. After the owner of the mine went into receivership in 1999, Giant Mine was transferred to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC, formally Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada). CIRNAC and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) continue to be responsible for the management of the site, including a variety of environmental concerns that need to be addressed. One of those concerns is how to manage approximately 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide dust waste currently stored underground.

To address the environmental concerns at the site, a proposal to protect human health, public safety and the environment was developed for the mine site. One of the specific objectives of the Giant Mine Remediation Plan is to manage the underground arsenic trioxide dust in a manner that will prevent the release of arsenic to the surrounding environment, minimize public and worker health and safety risks during implementation, and be cost effective and robust over the long-term.

The plan is to contain the arsenic dust in each underground storage area by freezing the surrounding rock to a temperature of -5 degrees Celsius.

Climate change is an important risk for consideration in the design of the ground freezing systems at Giant Mine. The design utilizes thermosyphons, which are active when exposed to arctic climatic conditions where the air temperature is colder than the temperature of the ground being frozen. In order to predict ground freezing success or the possibility of climate related warming in the future, a projection of future air temperature must be considered.

Starting with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment on Climate Change, the Giant Mine Remediation Project (GMRP) has incorporated climate change considerations into the freeze design. Climate change predictions specific to the Northwest Territories have, in recent years, been revised to reflect a greater understanding of how the Arctic regions will be more significantly affected by climate change than what global averages suggest. Based on these predictions, the GMRP is confident that the freeze design will last for the duration of the project.

Tauhid-Brian Thomas, Senior Engineer, Giant Mine Remediation Project Directorate, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Tauhid-Brian Thomas is a Senior Engineer in the Giant Mine Remediation Project Directorate with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC). His experience over 15 years has covered contaminated site management, hazardous waste management, and project management. During the past 10 years he has been focused on large scale Government of Canada contaminated sites in the North. Reducing the risk of the contamination created at the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line sites in the Artic for the Department of National Defense and establishing aspects of the design for the closure of the Giant Mine in Yellowknife for CIRNAC has led to an appreciation of the effects of Climate Change on projects in the North.

Faro Mine Remediation Project: Achieving Mine Closure on One of Canada's Largest Contaminated Sites
Alain Therriault, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
The objective of this presentation is to provide an update on the advancement of the Faro Mine Remediation Project and will examine the challenges in implementing the proposed remediation plan.  
**This presentation will be delivered in French.

The Faro Mine site, located in the Yukon approximately 200 km northeast of Whitehorse, produced lead and zinc intermittently from the 1960s until 1998 when Anvil Range Mining Corporation was placed into receivership. At one point, it was the largest open pit mine in the world and is now one of the biggest contaminated sites in Canada with over 320 million tonnes of waste rock and 70 million tonnes of tailings – both of which are acid generating and leaching metals into the surrounding environment. Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada is responsible for funding the remediation of the Faro Mine site and works in close collaboration with all of our partners, in particular the Government of Yukon, Kaska Nation and Selkirk First Nation. This presentation will update on the advancement of the project and will examine the challenges in implementing the proposed remediation plan.

From 2003 until 2008 the project team completed various studies to characterize the environmental issues at the site which culminated in the development of a number of viable closure options. In 2009, the project was able to reach consensus on a preferred option known as the “stabilize-in-place” approach. This plan involves upgrading diversions and dams to ensure tailings remain stable, re-sloping all waste rock dumps to improve long-term stability and installing engineered soil covers over the tailings and waste rock. This option also provides for state-of-the-art collection and treatment systems for contaminated water post-closure.

Since 2009, the project team has been working to further develop the approved conceptual approach and complete a detailed closure plan. In 2019, this plan was submitted to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board for review. Following the issuance of all necessary licenses and permits, implementation of the closure plan is expected to start in 2024 and take approximately 15 years to complete.

Before mining commenced, the people of the Kaska Nation used the land for subsistence. The abandoned mine site is also upstream of the traditional territory of the Selkirk First Nation. In addition to the potential for widespread environmental effects, the Government of Yukon is also interested in the positive impact to the territory’s economy. As a result, there is particular interest in returning the site to pre-mining land use and minimizing any further impact to water quality while providing socio-economic benefits to the region. Therefore, through an on-going and respectful government-to-government dialogue, the Faro Mine Remediation Project is committed to developing a positive and long-term relationship which will result in meaningful participation by all parties.

Alain Therriault, Policy and Governance Manager, Faro Mine Remediation Project, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

A Collaborative Approach to Addressing Mercury Impacts on the English-Wabigoon Rivers System
Mary Kelly1, Nelson Walter1, Judith Da Silva2
1Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions
2Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek
The objective of this presentation is to share a brief history of how mercury has impacted Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) and how their knowledge of the land has informed the remediation research, planning and execution. Considering the challenges and complexity of the issue, we will share information on the sampling completed and how these will inform remedial options and their evaluation.  

Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (ANA or Grassy Narrows First Nation) has been advocating and working to address the mercury contamination that continues to affect their members as well as other Indigenous people living on and off the land along the English-Wabigoon Rivers System in northwestern Ontario. In the 1960s and 1970s, over nine metric tonnes of mercury was released into the English-Wabigoon Rivers System from a chlor-alkali plant in Dryden, Ontario. The mercury contamination extends from Dryden over 200 km northwest through the waterways. Since the 1970s, mercury continues to contaminate sediment, water and fish at levels that exceed environmental and consumption guidelines.

Mercury has dramatically impacted the community of ANA. Once a culturally and economically strong community that operated and worked in commercial fisheries and provided guiding services, the community’s culture has been eroded and livelihoods destroyed. Recent health reports paint a dark picture of the toll mercury has and continues to take on the community. Health impacts affect over 90% of community members who participated in one study by Japanese experts. The detrimental health impacts spare no generation and there are fewer Elders in Grassy Narrows compared to other First Nation communities.

In 2017, the Province of Ontario established the English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation Funding Act (EWRRFA) to work towards cleanup of the rivers. Working collaboratively with ANA, Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions and other researchers have been sampling a variety of media to better understand the extent and levels of the impact. Sediment, fish and water samples were collected, with support from ANA community members, using funding from the EWRRFA in 2018 and 2019. The results of the sampling indicate that very high levels of mercury (over 50,000 ng/g) are present in sediments in Wabigoon River downstream of the Dryden Mill that discharged the mercury to the river. While the mercury sediment concentrations decrease to approximately two orders of magnitude lower in sections of the river over 100 km downstream, concentrations of mercury in fish in those downstream areas that are consumed by Grassy Narrows First Nation community members are still above provincial guidelines for sensitive populations and continue to pose risk to people that rely more heavily on fish as a food source.

Collaboratively advancing the research and planning for remediation will continue to create expanded opportunities for education, training, and business while simultaneously creating a more informed understanding of the impacts to be protective of human health and supporting cultural revitalization, which will benefit current and future generations.

Mary Kelly, Senior Consultant, Human Environment / Indigenous Business Initiative Lead, Environment and Infrastructure Solutions, Wood

Integration of Local Knowledge is a Key for the Remediation Success of Legacy Uranium Mine Sites
Ian Wilson and Joseph Muldoon
Saskatchewan Research Council
The objective of this presentation is to provide a brief narrative of how traditional knowledge can be applied to remediation projects successfully. This narrative will focus on a stepwise approach where trust must be developed prior to starting knowledge collection and integration; with specific applications to remediation projects. The narrative will be framed using a successful case study.  

A key to success, during all aspects of the remediation process on legacy uranium sites, and easily transferable between countries and projects, is the integration of local knowledge. However, before this knowledge can be integrated, local trust and project understanding must be developed. Local trust and project understanding can only be developed through a principle-centred approach to a shared project vision, two-way communication of knowledge, alignment of project goals, and understanding the local needs early in the remediation process. Once public confidence is obtained, local trust and project understanding must be maintained throughout the entirety of the remediation process. Project understanding is an ongoing endeavor that needs continuous communication and varied methods to succeed.

During the management of assessment, remediation and post remediation monitoring on Project CLEANS (remediation of 37 legacy uranium mine sites in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada), integration of local knowledge has been an instrumental tool attributing to success. During site assessment, integration of local knowledge included the development and implementation of land use surveys to determine realistic travel and occupancy on and adjacent to these legacy sites, and site specific traditional knowledge and land use studies that have contributed to the development of a detailed knowledge of local land use, resource utilization, country food intake, and human history of the sites. The local knowledge gained during the assessment process is invaluable as it provides information required to support remediation planning, such as: valued ecosystem components, human trophic utilization, length of site occupancy, cultural value assessment, and future land use considerations. During remediation planning, local and traditional knowledge can also be incorporated through determination of plant species suitability for revegetation, development and selection of remediation options, and setting realistic sustainable development targets for local project inclusion. During site remediation operations, local involvement can be utilized through direct labour and equipment, cultural resource monitoring (i.e., archeological and heritage protection), local logistics and historic information transfer, and stakeholder communications and engagement support. Post-remediation, local involvement is an efficient mechanism for long-term monitoring, and care and maintenance activities.

Although there may be differences between countries, regions and sites, the remediation process on legacy uranium mines can universally be more successful through the integration of local knowledge; while developing rights/stakeholder engagement and capacity building.

Joseph Muldoon, Vice-President, Environment and Biotech Division, Saskatchewan Research Council
Joseph Muldoon has over 30 years’ experience with the Provincial and Federal Government. His current position is Vice-President of the Environment and Biotech Division at the Saskatchewan Research Council. Joseph’s background includes regulatory, policy and operational applications of environmental and resource management, conflict resolution, mediation and change management. His education includes a Doctorate in Public Policy (major research on uranium mining), Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science (Biology). Joseph has been involved in numerous positions, some include: Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Management Division, Saskatchewan Environment; Executive Director, Environmental Protection Branch, Saskatchewan Environment; and, Senior Manager, Public Involvement and Aboriginal Affairs Branch, Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management.

Stakeholder Interests, Northern Logistics and Remedial Objectives: Finding Balance on the Canol Trail
Jean-Pierre Pelletier1, Caitlin Moore2, Rebecca Studer-Halbach2, Alix Rive1
2Public Services and Procurement Canada
The objective of this presentation is to highlight the challenges experienced while scoping and executing a dynamic and fast-paced northern project while meeting project objectives that included: reducing harm to the environment and land users while maintaining the historical significance of the Canol Trail; maximizing Indigenous employment and economic benefits; and, collaborating with Indigenous partners to incorporate traditional knowledge.  

The Canol Trail was part of the CANOL (Canadian Oil) Project, a cooperative effort between the United States and Canada, to provide a continuous supply of oil to American forces stationed in the Pacific during World War II. Between 1942 and 1945, approximately 2,650 km of pipe was laid along the Canol Road which was carved out of the Northwest Territories (NWT) and Yukon wilderness through permafrost and ice-rich soils. Maintenance infrastructure was constructed to support the pipeline and included 1,600 km of telephone line, pumphouses, bunkhouses, petroleum hydrocarbon storage tanks and outbuildings. At the outset of this remediation project, much of the pipeline infrastructure remained, resulting in various human health and environmental risks.

The Canol Trail Remediation project was undertaken by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) on behalf of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) and required the collaboration of various government bodies as well as the participation and cooperation of regulatory agencies and other stakeholder groups. In 2007, the Canol Trail Working Group was created, bringing together project stakeholders from Tulita and Norman Wells, NWT to provide input in the form of traditional knowledge feedback on the scope of the project and regular engagement throughout project execution.

The remedial action plan for the Canol Trail Remediation project was a combination of remediation and risk management activities which were selected to balance the logistical constraints of the site with the reduction or removal of environmental and human health risks, and the preservation of the future land use vision for the site – a territorial park. Prior to this remediation program, a three-year clean-up project was undertaken to remove the fallen telephone wire from the length of the trail. The wire clean-up project provided capacity building within the local communities and the experience from that project was a benefit to the remediation through the provision of local knowledge and experienced personnel.

This project presented unique northern and remote site challenges with most sites only accessible by helicopter. All waste (hazardous and non-hazardous) and contaminated soil were longlined from the sites to temporary storage areas, and then transported to licensed disposal facilities. A base of operations established in Norman Wells in 2018 and at Mile 222 (close to the Yukon border) in 2019 required daily mobilization of the crew, equipment and waste over long distances. The majority of the sites were remediated in 1-3 days, making this project fast-paced and leaving little time to react to changes in scope or unexpected site conditions.

One of the primary goals of the project was to maximize Indigenous engagement and socio-economic benefits to local Sahtu Dene and Metis communities. The main workforce was hired from Tulita, Norman Wells, Deline and Fort Good Hope, while suppliers and sub-contractors from Norman Wells and Tulita played major roles in the project. In addition, the remediation contract required that a Traditional Knowledge Advisor work directly with Englobe to act as a liaison between the contractor and the community.

This presentation will highlight the challenges experienced while scoping and executing this dynamic and fast-paced northern project while meeting the project objectives that included: reducing harm to the environment and land users while maintaining the historical significance of the Canol Trail; maximizing Indigenous employment and economic benefits; and, working in collaboration with Indigenous partners to incorporate Traditional Knowledge.

Caitlin Moore, Project Manager, Environmental Services and Contaminated Sites Management Group, Public Services and Procurement Canada
Caitlin Moore is an Environmental Engineer with over a decade of experience working on Northern remediation projects including former DEW Line sites, abandoned mine sites and former oil and gas exploration sites. She is currently a Project Manager with Public Services and Procurement Canada in the Environmental Services and Contaminated Sites Management group.

Jean-Pierre Pelletier, Project Director, Environmental Engineering, Northern Canada, Englobe
Jean-Pierre Pelletier graduated from Laval University in 1990 with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. At the beginning of his career, he managed and supervised on site several remediation projects around the Great Lakes. Jean-Pierre also carried out many environmental site assessments, environmental impact studies and produced several scientific and technical reports and articles for Environment and Climate Change Canada – Ontario Region. He acquired extensive experience in both marine and terrestrial remediation projects. Since 2005, Jean-Pierre has managed and supervised several environmental assessment and remediation projects, from small to large-scale, in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

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