Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Feds get permission to clean up the uranium exploration site in the NWT.

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The mine entrance to the Stark Lake site. The photo on the left shows what it is today, partially closed, while the archive photo on the right shows what it was before.

Radio-Canada

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The federal government has received the land use permit, necessary to begin the remediation process of the uranium exploration site, located 20 km east of Łutselk'e, close to the lake Stark, Northwest Territories.

Uranium exploration took place in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In the 1950s, drilling, excavation and bulk sampling activities were carried out, states the federal government (New window), which took responsibility for the site when it was abandoned.

The closure and reclamation plan , developed by engineering firm AECOM and published last year, indicated that the level of contamination at the site was moderate.

James Marlowe, chief of the Łutselk'e Dene Nation, hopes its restoration will be complete to allow people to hunt and fish in the area. This place is special, he says.

Restoring the environment to its natural state is what we want.

A quote from James Marlowe, Chief of the Łutselk'e Dene Nation

The site includes a mine and a camp, according to the federal website, which lists contaminated sites in the territory. The mine includes waste rock with a slightly elevated radiation level with high concentrations of metals.

According to the land use permit, the mine works x27;remediation includes the sealing of wells, the management of more than 1000 cubic meters of waste rock piles, the burning and extraction of materials and the demolition of structures.

The Treasury Board of Canada says the government has already spent more than $2.5 million preparing to clean up the mine. The work is expected to end in March 2026.

Juni Gahdële, one of the community elders, says his father worked in this mine. With his family, he spent summers at the camp when he was a child. They used to make good bread there, it was just killer, he said laughing.

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Although he has good memories of the region, the eldest is worried about the current contamination. He says fish caught in Stark Lake must be released because they contain mercury. However, he wonders if this has anything to do with the mining site.

He doubts, however, that remediation efforts are enough to repair the damage caused by exploration activities: It is not enough to cover with sand and gravel. We are talking about contamination. We're talking about plants, trees, animals and water.

Chief Marlowe, for his part, is happy that the federal begins the steps to clean up the place. A multi-year monitoring program will begin once the site is cleared.

With information from Liny Lamberink

By admin

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