The Department of National Defence says the largest environmental remediation in Canada’s history is now finished.
The near-decade-long, $575-million clean-up began in 1996 after Ottawa announced it would remediate 21 of the U.S. military’s biggest Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line sites.
After more than nine years of remediating lead and polychlorinated biphenyl-filled (PCB) soil, removing old asbestos-filled infrastructure, and creating new waste areas, Nunavut crews have finished the cleanup of the Cape Dyer DEW Line on Baffin Island, the most demanding site of them all.
The stations were built in the Cold War era to defend North America from enemy aircraft. Most were decommissioned decades ago. Cape Dyer was built by the U.S. in the late 1950s for airspace surveillance, but abandoned just a few years later when the technology became outdated.
The project scope for Cape Dyer included the southern transport and disposal of more than 14,000 megatonnes of hazardous materials, contaminated soils and PCB waste collected from the environmental clean-up of former DEW Line Sites within the Nunavut Settlement Area.
Qikiqtaaluk Environmental estimates there were some 6,500 metric tonnes of contaminated soil and demolition debris to move off-site. Some of the soil is being placed in nearby soil farms where it will be treated to allow hydrocarbons to evaporate.
The federal government says a monitoring program is in place to ensure the sites remain safe for at least the next 25 years.