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Cleanup continues at Checkpoint yard
Testing continues to reveal remaining contaminants

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 26, 2011

DEH CHO - Cleanup of a contaminated site is entering its fourth year in the Deh Cho.

NNSL photo/graphic

Metal and other debris buried on the site was sorted last year as part of the ongoing remediation of the Checkpoint highway maintenance yard being conducted by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the territorial government. - photo courtesy of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada has spent $1.7 million to date, including work that will be conducted this year, on the clean-up of the Checkpoint highway maintenance yard.

The remediation is a joint project between INAC, which is supplying the funding, and the territorial government, which is managing the project.

The yard, which is located near the junction of Highways 1 and 7, was originally built in the 1970s as a highway maintenance area. It included a camp for workers and storage for the vehicles and equipment that were used to maintain the highway, said Jane Amphlett, a project manager with INAC.

The site was later used for a logging and milling operation in the 1990s. The yard was identified as having soil contaminated by hydrocarbons as well as equipment and materials that were buried when the area was abandoned.

Work began in 2008 when the site was assessed to determine what it contained. In 2009, a land farm was built approximately two kilometres away from the site to treat the hydrocarbon contaminated soil, said Amphlett.

Last year 6,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil was excavated and taken to the land farm. Buried waste including crushed fuel drums, tires, metal debris and a vehicle, was also dug up and sorted.

Non-hazardous debris was stockpiled at the yard and will be disposed of later off-site. Any potentially hazardous debris like fuel was removed to a licensed waste disposal facility, Amphlett said.

This year the focus at the site will be on treating the soil and testing to determine what materials are left and then coming up with the next steps, she said.

Additional soil samples will be taken to determine how much hydrocarbon contaminated soil as well as buried waste remains at the site and needs to be removed.

At the land farm, the soil will be turned and nutrients will be added break down the contaminants. This will be the first year of a two-to-three year treatment plan.

A completion date for remediation hasn't been determined. If tests show there is remaining material at the site it will take additional time, she said.

"It's been a multi-year process for sure," said Amphlett.

The yard is located beside the Jean Marie River waterway and approximately 60 kilometres upstream from the community of Jean Marie River.

As part of the remediation, water samples have been taken yearly from both the site and the river. There is no indication that the site has impacted the river, Amphlett said.

Once the assessments have been completed this year and the next steps in the remediation are decided, INAC plans to visit Jean Marie River to update the community on the project.

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