Cleaning up one of the most polluted locations in Canada is estimated to cost taxpayers four times more than originally planned.
The Treasury Board of Canada recently approved a new $4.38 billion cost estimate for the remediation of the giant mine, a former gold mine that operated from 1948 to 2004 within city limits. Yellowknife.
The federally-led project was estimated to cost just under $1 billion in 2013, but that doesn’t take into account inflation, contingency and project management costs, and the fact that mitigation plans recovery has been extended.
“We’ve heard from rights and stakeholders and we’ve improved the project since the original cost estimate,” said Natalie Plato, Deputy Director of the Giant Mine Action Project. head is given. “We think this is a very positive initiative for Yellowknife and the surrounding area.”
Kevin O’Reilly, a member of the Northwest Territories legislature who intervened in the Giant Mine cleanup plan as an environmentalist, said he was not surprised by the price. new.
“It’s certainly a huge number, but it doesn’t really surprise anyone,” he said. “Commuting costs have skyrocketed in the past while in regards to hiring contractors, etc.”
O’Reilly said he’d like to see a breakdown of the estimated costs. He said he had been trying to figure out an estimate before, eventually getting the number by submitting an access request.
The $4.38 billion cost estimate includes all remediation project spending since 2005 and projected future costs during active remediation.
While the remediation was originally slated for completion in 2031, that deadline has been pushed back to 2038. However, some aspects of the project, such as 237,000 tons of toxic arsenic trioxide dust stored underground at this site, will require permanent care and maintenance.
O’Reilly says the cost of permanent care can be substantial.
Since the initial cost estimate was released, the project has gone through a water licensing process and an environmental assessment, resulting in 26 legally binding measures that must be completed before remedial action can be taken.
Other changes include the establishment of a monitoring board, community benefit and contribution agreements, as well as a health effects monitoring program to measure levels of arsenic and other pollutants in residents in the city. Yellowknife, N’dilo and Detah through biological sampling.
Plato said another change requested by stakeholders was to fill in eight openings at the site instead of leaving them open to protect the ground from flooding.
The scale of the mine cleanup operation is enormous, with an area spanning over 900 hectares. It also has 13.5 tons of contaminated land, a landfill, six shrimp tail ponds and 100 buildings, including an abandoned town that was once home to asbestos workers.
Pollution remediation work over the next decade will include building a new water treatment plant, clearing the site of old towns, stabilizing the ground using a mixture of cement, waste, and solid waste. chemical additives, and freezing underground arsenic chambers using 858 thermosiphons, essentially long tubes filled with pressurized carbon dioxide.
This Canadian Press report was first published on November 10, 2022.
This story was made possible with the financial support of Meta and the Canada Press News Fellowship.