Cleanup of one of the vital contaminated websites in Canada is estimated to value taxpayers greater than 4 instances what was initially anticipated.
The Treasury Board of Canada just lately accepted a brand new $4.38-billion value estimate for the remediation of Giant Mine, a former gold mine that operated from 1948 to 2004 inside Yellowknife metropolis limits.
The federally led venture was estimated to value slightly below $1 billion in 2013, however that didn’t bear in mind inflation, contingency and venture administration prices, in addition to the truth that remediation plans have since expanded.
“We’ve heard from our rights and stakeholders and we have improved the venture because the unique value estimate got here out,” stated Natalie Plato, deputy director of the Giant Mine Remediation Project. “We assume it is a very constructive initiative for Yellowknife and the encircling space.”
Kevin O’Reilly, a member of the Northwest Territories legislature who was an intervener on the Giant Mine cleanup plan as an environmentalist, stated he is not stunned by the brand new price ticket.
“It’s actually an enormous quantity, nevertheless it should not actually shock anyone,” he stated. “Travel prices have been skyrocketing during the last whereas by way of getting contractors and so forth.”
O’Reilly stated he’d like to see a breakdown of the fee estimate. He stated he had to push to discover out the earlier estimate, finally acquiring the determine by submitting an access-to-information request.
The $4.38-billion value estimate encompasses all spending on the remediation venture since 2005 and projected future prices throughout energetic remediation.
While remediation was initially slated to be full in 2031, that deadline has been pushed again to 2038. Some points of the venture, nonetheless, such because the 237,000 tonnes of extremely toxic arsenic trioxide mud saved underground on the website, would require perpetual care and upkeep.
O’Reilly stated the prices for perpetual care will possible be important.
Since the preliminary value estimate was launched, the venture has undergone a water licence course of and an environmental evaluation, which resulted in 26 legally binding measures that had to be accomplished earlier than remediation might proceed.
Other adjustments embrace the creation of an oversight board, group profit and contribution agreements, in addition to a well being results monitoring program to measure ranges of arsenic and different contaminants in residents in Yellowknife, N’dilo and Dettah by organic sampling.
Plato stated one other change requested by stakeholders was filling in eight open pits on the website moderately than leaving them open to shield the underground from flooding.
The scale of the mine cleanup is very large, with the positioning stretching greater than 900 hectares. It additionally has 13.5 tonnes of contaminated soil, a landfill, six tailing ponds and 100 buildings, together with an deserted townsite the place the previous houses of employees comprise asbestos.
Remediation work over the following decade is to embrace development of a brand new water therapy plant, deconstruction of the previous townsite, underground stabilization utilizing a combination of cement, tailings and chemical components, and freezing of underground arsenic chambers utilizing 858 thermosiphons, that are principally lengthy tubes full of pressurized carbon dioxide.
This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Nov. 10, 2022.
This story was produced with the monetary help of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.