Toxic dump to be cleaned up

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Seven years after an original work plan was completed, Transport Canada has awarded Iqaluit-based Kudlik Construction Ltd. a reported $5.4 million contract to clean up a decades-old contaminated dump site by Sylvia Grinnell River on the outskirts of the capital.

The majority of materials at the old dump site at Sylvia Grinnell River were deposited in 1963 when the US Military left Frobisher Bay. Shops, buildings, and other materials were bulldozed over the cliff. photo courtesy Arcadis

The project is good news for the City of Iqaluit.
“This site has been on the radar for years, mostly at the community level, long-term residents of Iqaluit. It’s not always on the radar for people who come into the community to take work, either at the Government of Nunavut or at the federal level,” said Iqaluit mayor Madeleine Redfern.
“These sites need remediation. But they need to be on some list for remediation. And that’s been one of the challenges, knowing that sometimes these sites are not on that list because we are not a Distant Early Warning site. But we were an American military base as a weather station and a refueling station.”
Also, it’s often not clear which level of government is responsible for any given contaminated site.
For the area Kudlik will remediate, the United States Air Force used the site from between 1955 to 1963 as a metal dump for vehicles, truck bodies, barrels and scrap metal, according to the updated 2017 remediation work plan.

A view of the Sylvia Grinnell River, with the some of the abandoned barrels and other waste. Kudlik Construction Ltd. has been awearded the $5.4 million contract by Transport Canada to remediate the decades-old dump site.
Michele LeTourneau/NNSL photo

“The majority of materials were deposited in 1963 when the US military left Frobisher Bay. Shops, buildings, and other materials were simply bulldozed over the cliff,” states the plan.
The site was believed to be used for the disposal of small quantities of municipal waste from the town of Iqaluit in the 1960s, and continues to be used today as a “rogue dumping area for residents of the community.”
“These types of activities were observed during the field investigation,” according to the plan.
“We can’t do any city improvements unless that land is under our ownership,” Redfern said. “Once the site is remediated, it can be transferred to the city. Then we’ll be able to look at how we want to utilize that area. I’m sure community members are going to begin to set up camp sites, fish from that area, berry picking, the potential of formerly enclosing that sled-dog pen area.”
The top objectives of the site remediation are to minimize human health risks and safety risks at the site, protect fish, wildlife and vegetation, protect Sylvia Grinnell River water quality, minimize environmental impacts during remediation, minimize long-term care and maintenance and blend the final site conditions with the surrounding environment.
More than a dozen reports are cited in the plan, some dating back to the late 1980s and early ’90s. Over the years, moderate to significant contaminant impacts were found at the site, from a wide variety of contaminants. Results of sampling can be found in the 204-page Remedial Action Plan, Former Metal Dump and Community Landfill.
Kudlik’s job will include building road access from the top to the lower area of the dump site in order to remove debris, as well as impacted sediments and soils. These will be relocated, some moved to the landfill and some to a temporary staging area for recycling and shipment to the south.
“Impacted soil will be directed to the Iqaluit land treatment unit or south, according to the nature of impact,” states the plan, which also says heavily impacted sediments would be treated similarly.
The contractor will also carry out the final capping, countering and revegetation of specific areas at the site.
There are several sites in or around the city that require remediation, including the metal dump at the end of Federal Road and the dump at the far end of Apex. In a submission of known or suspected contaminated sites to the Nunavut Planning Commission, the city states both likely date back to the days when the American military was in the area.
Kudlik confirmed it is doing the work, but referred Nunavut News/North to Transport Canada. Transport Canada did not respond to questions by press time.