DEW Line Clean-up
Protecting the fragile northern environment
A complex environmental clean-up in one of the world’s harshest climates is nearing completion. Built in the late 1950s, the radar sites that made up the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line across the Canadian Arctic were considered essential for Canada’s protection during the Cold War. But in the early 1990s, DND no longer required use of the sites and the attention focused on removal and disposal of old technology.
With a mission to inspect, clean up and monitor the sites, the Department of National Defence (DND) turned to DCC’s Project Management services for assistance. Each site was put through an environmental assessment to identify contaminants (from items such as metal, paint, fuel, batteries, and electrical equipment), landfill condition and debris. Sites were also investigated from an engineering and archaeological perspective, and a site-specific clean-up plan designed that incorporated geological conditions such as permafrost, terrain and hydrology.
DCC managed the contracting out of this work, including demolition of facilities, collection of site debris, removal of hazardous material, excavation of contaminated soil, landfill development and closure, site grading, and development of northern disposal facilities. The process included consulting with northern residents to hear their concerns and suggestions, and contracts incorporated minimum Inuit employment of between 65 and 80 percent.
In addition to working in difficult terrain, often accessible for only short periods of the year, the clean-up design had to accommodate climate change, as warmer weather has increased wave action and erosion, and decreased the depth of permafrost. DCC is continuing to work closely with DND, industry experts, northern communities, and contractors, developing new environmental solutions as needed that will be of service to others working in northern Canada.
Clean-up work on the DEW Line will be complete in 2013, moving the project into the monitoring stage at all 21 DND-managed sites and ensuring that the northern environment is protected far into the future.
Visit this link to see a video about the Dew line clean-up.