Environmental Monitoring and Research

“Made in the North”: Using Adaptive Approaches to Manage Remediation Projects in Dynamic Northern Environments at the Bullmoose-Ruth Remediation Project

Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - 16:00 to 16:19 Theatre 2


T. Testart (Presenting)
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

R. Breadmore
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Working in the Northwest Territories can present challenges; both in the biophysical aspects of remediation and in the necessary engagement with impacted communities. The Bullmoose-Ruth Remediation Project was a complex undertaking. The project involved seven Indigenous partner communities, seven abandoned mines in a remote part of the North Slave region, construction of around 270 km of winter access roads, multiple stakeholders with competing interests, and engineering undertaken in extreme climatic conditions. This presentation will explain how adaptive decision making was used to create solutions to emerging problems that fit the structural constraints in the human and biophysical environment.

The seven sites within the Bullmoose-Ruth Remediation Project are all abandoned gold mines or exploration sites; namely, Bullmoose Mine, Ruth Mine, Spectrum Mine, Beaulieu Mine, Joon Mine, and the Chipp and Storm exploration sites. These sites were active between the 1940s and 1980s and are located around 90 km northeast of Yellowknife, NT. Between March 2016 and July 2018, the Bullmoose-Ruth Remediation Project covered, closed, or filled 13 mine openings, removed 11,618 m3 of metal-impacted soils, sediments, and tailings, treated 7,082 m3 of hydrocarbon-impacted soils, and removed 2,231.1 m3 of non-hazardous waste and 432.5 m3 of hazardous waste. The project required the construction of two landfills, reconstruction of a length of Bullmoose Creek (32.4 m2), installation of monitoring infrastructure and instrumentation, and construction of engineered hydrological controls. Although the remediation phase of the project is complete, monitoring will be ongoing for the foreseeable future.

By using adaptive decision making that allowed for change and modification based on field conditions, available resources, and close collaboration with team members and partners, the project team was able to find both engineering solutions and design optimization that allowed for the project to be completed a full year sooner than the planned schedule. The benefit of this early finish is a reduction in risk to people and the environment posed by the winter road, work activities, and human disturbance. These benefits outweighed any risks associated with major changes to planned activities. This presentation will discuss these optimizations, and how the close collaboration with Indigenous partners allowed for a more efficient and successful Project completion.