Canol Trail Remediation Project

Overview

The Canol Trail was part of the CANOL (Canadian Oil) Project, a cooperative effort between the United States and Canada during the Second World War to ensure a continuous supply of oil from Norman Wells, Northwest Territories to Whitehorse, Yukon, and to Alaska, USA. Local Indigenous people were instrumental to the project by identifying a viable route across the rough terrain.

 
A weathered and dilapidated wooden building stands in front of a low mountain range on a sunny day.

 

Oil flowed through the Canol pipeline from Norman Wells to Whitehorse starting in April 1944, but one year later the project was abandoned. Several salvage operations have been conducted, but remnants of the project remain along the trail.

Remediation Project

The goal of the Canol Trail Remediation Project is to reduce major environmental and human health risks associated with the abandoned pipeline and related infrastructure.

Remediation activities will:

  • remove batteries for off-site disposal
  • excavate contaminated soils from areas that present a significant risk and remove for off-site disposal
  • remove fuel from storage tanks and machinery
  • secure storage tanks to prevent access
  • consolidate empty barrels
  • remove asbestos-containing material
  • secure standing buildings for the safety of all
  • address some physical hazards such as fuel drums, buildings, and bridges in disrepair

In 2016 remedial and risk management options were developed and the preferred options were selected by the Canol Trail Remediation Working Group.

The Working Group includes:

  • Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC)
  • Tulita Dene Band
  • Tulita Land Corporation
  • Fort Norman Metis Land Corporation
  • Tulita Renewable Resources Council
  • Norman Wells Land Corporation
  • Norman Wells Renewable Resources Council
  • Sahtu Renewable Resource Board
  • Government of Northwest Territories
    • Industry Tourism and Investment (ITI)
    • Environment and Natural Resources (ENR)

In 2017, an information meeting was held with the Working Group to review the procurement process for the Canol Trail Remediation Project contract. INAC will conduct an Archaeological Impact Assessment with the Sahtu Dene and Métis communities and submit a land use permit application to the Sahtu Land and Water Board.

On August 24, 2017, PSPC awarded the contract for the Canol Trail Remediation Project to Englobe Corp. on behalf of INAC. The contract, valued at $5.9 million, will provide economic opportunities to the Sahtu.

Remediation activities will begin in 2018, with an expected completion date of March 31, 2020. As part of the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) procedures, INAC will monitor the site once remediation is complete to ensure that remediation activities perform as planned.

Wire cleanup

In addition to remediation activities that fall under the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP), the Government of Canada has provided funding for a program to remove telegraph wire that endangered wildlife along the Canol Trail.

 
A caribou skull and antler entangled in telegraph wire in a field of tall grass are held up by a crew member on an overcast day.

 

In 2015 INAC provided funding for community capacity building and wire clean-up for 116 km of the trail, in partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and the Doi T’oh Territorial Park Corporation (DTPC). In 2016, INAC funded further work, where participants cleared wire from 126 km of the most challenging terrain on the trail. The wire was cut and stock-piled in key locations to facilitate future removal. This program provided local workers with training in project management, field operations, and occupational health and safety.

Territorial Park

The Canol Trail is located in the Sahtu settlement area. In 2015, the Doi T’oh Territorial Park Corporation (DTPC) was formed to work with the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) to plan and manage a Territorial Park to be created pursuant to clause 17.3 of the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement.

Members of the DTPC include:

  • Tulita Dene Band
  • Tulita Land Corporation
  • Fort Norman Metis Land Corporation
  • Tulita Renewable Resources Council
  • Norman Wells Land Corporation
  • Norman Wells Renewable Resources Council

INAC also meets regularly with the Canol Trail Remediation Working Group and the GNWT to share information and complete work that could support potential park development in the future.

Previous Activities

From 2007 to 2009 an aerial and ground review of the trail was conducted and an inventory of abandoned waste materials and areas of concern was compiled. From 2009 to 2014 Environment Site Assessments were completed at several sites along the trail and a Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment was completed.

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