2020 FCSNW logo

Analysis of Surface Water Quality at Seven Legacy Uranium Mines in Saskatchewan
Qiong (June) Lu1, David Sanscartier1, Thomas Lavergne2
1SNC-Lavalin Inc.
2Saskatchewan Research Council
The objective of this presentation is to discuss the challenges in managing surface water quality at these remote northern legacy uranium sites, summarize the three-step approach, and describe key findings and recommendations.  

The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) is managing the remediation and closure of 35 legacy uranium mines and exploration sites on behalf of the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Energy and Resources. The project is funded by the provincial and federal government. The sites are located in northern Saskatchewan, operated from the 1950s to 1970s and were abandoned with little to no decommissioning. Historically, the sites produced uranium ore that was transported off-site for processing. As such, no tailings are present at any of the sites reducing the potential environmental concerns from the sites. The ultimate objective of the project is to address the risks to acceptable levels and transfer these sites to the provincial Institutional Control Program (ICP). Transfer to ICP requires that the sites be safe, stable and secure.

SNC-Lavalin Inc. was retained by SRC to provide analysis and interpretation of the surface water quality at seven sites where remediation is almost complete. A three-step approach was used to evaluate the surface water quality at these sites. The first step consisted of data screening (e.g., by locations in relation to source, upstream and downstream) and statistical summary. The second step involved the identification of substances of potential concern (SOPCs) by comparing concentrations with applicable Saskatchewan Environmental Quality Standards (SEQS) and/or background concentrations, to identify if elevated concentration could be attributed to historical site activities. The third step consisted of an interpretation of the overall surface water quality. Multiple lines of evidence were considered in the interpretation of the significance of the results for the third step, including: identification of the number, frequency and magnitude of exceedances; comparison of statistical characteristics of SOPCs concentrations upstream and downstream; determination of potential loading of SOPCs in receiving environment; and, identification of concentration trends using Mann-Kendall statistical analysis.

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Water Quality Index (CCME WQI) was also used in step three to classify the surface water quality present at each site. The CCME WQI accounts for the number, frequency, and magnitude of regulatory exceedances and assigns an overall categorization or classification of the water quality (poor, marginal, fair, good, or excellent) specific to selected Tier 2 SEQS endpoints (e.g., potable water).

Surface water quality at these seven sites were evaluated and then ranked, based on the results of the interpretation of surface water quality data following the three-step approach. Recommendations were provided for each site, including additional sampling to support statistical analysis; assessment of potential endpoints such as aquatic habitat; limited remediation; better understanding the connection between impacts in surface water and groundwater; and, administrative controls to limit potential exposure. This presentation will summarize the three-step approach, describe key findings and recommendations based on the interpreted surface water results, and present recommendation for the application and limitations of CCME WQI tool, and discuss some of the outcomes of the assessment and regulatory acceptance.

David Sanscartier, Environmental Remediation Business Unit, Saskatchewan Research Council

David Sanscartier is part of the Environmental Remediation Business Unit at the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC). He manages the remediation of legacy uranium mines in northern Saskatchewan. In the past 15 years, he has been involved in environmental engineering projects and multi-disciplinary applied research in industry and academia, including abandoned mine sites and contaminated land remediation and life cycle assessment. He holds a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada. He speaks both English and French.

Logistical and Conceptual Challenges in Geotechnical and Hydrogeological Assessment in Subarctic Old Crow, Yukon
Anthony West1, Rebecca Hardie1, Janelle Langlais2, Forest Pearson1
1Morrison Hershfield
2Environment Yukon
The objective of this presentation is to share our experience solving logistical challenges while performing geotechnical and hydrogeological field investigations in the subarctic and reflect on how the permafrost environment requires a shift in thinking away from traditional norms.  

Two sites are being assessed for their potential to host a land treatment facility to treat contaminated soil in the community of Old Crow. Geotechnical and hydrogeological investigations took place at these two sites in fall 2019, each with a significant focus on the characterization of permafrost and active zone conditions. Logistics of investigating ground conditions in Old Crow are complex and challenges abound. The most obvious challenges revolve around mobilization of heavy equipment to this fly-in community, especially considering that permafrost necessitates the use of high-torque equipment. This challenge was met through collaboration among multiple consulting teams, all with the same client. Another key factor in dealing with this challenge was the availability of a charter plane that was able to deliver parts.

Other challenges include finding vehicles and accommodation to rent, paying for accommodation, having cargo and dangerous-goods restrictions on equipment, having short days, having to pack in food for the field staff, dealing with cargo weight restrictions and uncertainty in delivery times, managing sample hold times, and having to adjust conventional thinking regarding the installation of monitoring wells.

Further to the need to rethink monitoring well design, is the related challenge of using design guidelines written for warmer climates than that of Old Crow, where the mean annual temperature is -8 degrees Celsius, and where permafrost is continuous and typically within the upper one to two metres. In this context, the typical conventional concepts of groundwater and aquifers are not applicable, and instructions of drilling depths and targets are not applicable. These challenges are overcome by reading, research, and thoughtful consideration of actual ground conditions.

This presentation will focus on these logistical and conceptual challenges, considering the current, relatively early stages of the investigation.

Anthony West, Senior Environmental Engineer, Morrison Hershfield
Anthony (Ant) West, Ph.D., P.Eng., is a senior environmental engineer with Morrison Hershfield in Ottawa, and the company’s key contact in for hydrogeology, contamination and hazardous materials. His academic and professional background is as a contaminant hydrogeologist with expertise in modelling and fractured flow systems. He has represented numerous clients and has taught hydrogeology and modelling at the university level. Increasingly, his practice includes provision of expert advice to colleagues across the country, and in Canada's north.

Simple Project Scope in Challenging Locations – Project Execution in a Remote Location in Northern Ontario
Leon Burger1, Tiffany Wong2, Scott Thompson1
1SNC-Lavalin Inc.
2Public Services and Procurement Canada
The objective of this presentation is to focus on the project management challenges and lessons learned from carrying out a seemingly simple project at a remote location and discuss how to i) better define our understanding of remote sites; ii) identify ways to prepare for success; and, iii) identify how to respond when unanticipated conditions are encountered or incidents occur.  

Completion of lead-based paint abatement, asbestos abatement and debris removal at a federally owned facility can, in broad terms, be considered a simple project scope. Completing these tasks following minimum and intermediate precaution methods utilizing hand tools would be considered marginally more challenging. Carrying out this work in a remote northern location, on an island in Lake Superior, within budget and within a limited seasonal window – this is a challenge!

This presentation will focus on the project management challenges and lessons learned from carrying out a seemingly simple project at a remote location. The objectives of the review are to i) better define our understanding of remote sites ( e.g., remote sites may be accessible only by certain modes of transportation and still within populated areas and with communication coverage, or remote locations may be isolated completely and have no readily available modes of access or communication); ii) identify ways to prepare for success; and, iii) identify how to respond when unanticipated conditions are encountered or incidents occur.

The mandate given to SNC-Lavalin Inc. was to act as department representative for Public Services and Procurement Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada during abatement of exterior lead-based paint and asbestos and debris removal from the Michipicoten Island East End Light Station. The site, situated on the east end of Michipicoten Island, is approximately 70 km southwest of Wawa, Ontario, in Lake Superior. The site consists of several structures/buildings including an unmanned lighthouse, a living quarters and garage/former living quarters with remaining foundations from several former structures. The site is surrounded by open water of Lake Superior to the north and east, accessible only by air (helicopter) or boat via the north dock.

A number of site access and logistical challenges were successfully overcome including establishing reliable access to the remote location in Lake Superior; mobilizing heavy equipment and material by barge; preparation of temporary accommodation and facilities (sanitation) erected on-site; establishing remote location health and safety protocols; scheduling crew and department representative rotation by helicopter on two-week rotations; and, take down and demobilization, and removal of all waste and material from the site following completion of on-site construction activities.

Engineering challenges encountered included discovery of structural issues with buildings resulting in safety concerns during preparation for abatement; unanticipated construction deviation as a result of structural issues; and, discovery of an unanticipated debris pile location.

Lessons learned included: contractor submittal requirements are critical to successful project execution; project initiation timelines are critical when there is a limited window for construction; and, visual structural assessments are limited and lack detail for suitable recommendations to be implemented during construction (abatement and restoration).

Leon Burger, Contaminant Hydrogeologist, SNC-Lavalin Inc.
Leon Burger, B.Sc., P.Geo., is a contaminant hydrogeologist with more than 14 years of experience in contaminated site assessment. His project experience spans coordination and project management of routine groundwater monitoring and Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) to coordinating multi-disciplinary ESA, demolition and remediation projects. He has served as a portfolio project manager for a large oil and gas client in Ontario. Leon has provided senior technical review for environmental, hydrogeological and remediation projects across Ontario. Leon is a Qualified Person in accordance with O.Reg. 153/04. In addition, Leon has carried out components of hydrogeological and environmental work, on location, for several mining and environmental projects throughout South Africa, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Botswana, Ghana, Alberta and Ontario and has been actively involved in conducting Phase II ESAs and remediation for clients in a variety of industrial sectors.

Mould Bay Causeway Reconstruction
Alexandre Leclair1, Claudia Simonato2, Owen Wade3, Deniz Baykal3
1Englobe Corp.
2Public Services and Procurement Canada
3Environment and Climate Change Canada
The objective of this presentation is to share the unique challenges faced whilst planning for and operating fast-tracked projects in remote northern locations.  

Mould Bay, located on Prince Patrick Island, is the site of one of the five High Arctic Weather Stations constructed jointly by the American and Canadian governments in 1948. Along with Eureka, Resolute, Isachsen and Alert, the Mould Bay Weather station allowed for a better understanding of the impact of Arctic weather systems on the rest of North America, over time improving the ability to accurately predict weather in the south. Mould Bay is in one of the least accessible locations in Canada; historically inaccessible by sealift or icebreaker due to an ever-present ice pack, the site remains only accessible by air, making it unique when compared to most government installations in the north.

The site was manned until 1997 when it was replaced by an automated system. Since closure, the weather station has been unmaintained, including site buildings and infrastructure. The causeway connecting the weather station and site access roads to the main airstrip has since washed out and its reconstruction, along with the rehabilitation of a key haul road, was the primary objective of this project. All work was being carried out in support of overall future site remediation objectives as the creek crossing presented a significant barrier to future mobilization efforts.

Englobe Corp. was hired as prime contractor for this project, which consisted of the dismantling of the existing causeway, including the management of debris removed from the original causeway made up of old culverts and repurposed drums; the production of aggregate material from onsite borrow sources; the construction of two river crossing sections totalling 60 meters; and, the reconstruction and regrading of the causeway and attached haul road leading to the borrow source and site landfill.

The greatest challenges encountered within this project were associated with site access and logistics. Mobilization of materials and equipment to site factored many complex variables including winter road closures, river crossings, aircraft capacities, and airport and runway conditions (both onsite and in surrounding communities). Onsite, the airstrip thawing, combined with strict stream crossing restrictions and a limited window of operation for in-water works, added a further level of complexity in planning project operations. Finally, while not relying directly on barging for project operations, disruptions in the supply of aviation fuel to local communities had a drastic impact on chartered flight routings, ultimately impacting camp resupply, movement of personnel and project timelines.

This presentation seeks to share the unique challenges faced whilst planning for and operating fast-tracked projects in remote northern locations. We will discuss the critical milestones for mobilisation and demobilisation, and provide solutions for optimizing planning, logistics and operations when working on time critical projects.

Alexandre Leclair, Team Leader, Environmental Engineering, Northern and Western Canada, Englobe Corp.
Occupying roles ranging from Site Superintendent to Project Engineer and Project Director, Alexandre Leclair has been a key member of the Environmental Engineering Department at Englobe for the last 14 years. As a licenced professional Engineer under Northwest Territories and Nunavut Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists (NAPEG), EY and Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ), Alexandre has provided expertise as technical lead on numerous major remediation and site clean-up projects, including former DEW Line sites CAM-5, CAM-C ,FOX-D, FOX-E and FOX-3 as well as former weather stations on Padloping and Nottingham Islands in Nunavut. Alexandre also serves as associate project director for Englobe large scale engineering projects such as the Rio Tinto mine tailings pond remediation study and the stabilization and dismantling of the M/V Kathryn Spirit ship to name a few. Alexandre obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Engineering from the École de technologie supérieure in 2002.

Questions en

fb icon   Twitter icon   linkedIn icon