July 2017: What's Happening at Giant?
Rivers to Oceans
On June 13th, the Giant Mine Remediation Project team participated in this year’s Rivers to Oceans Day, an annual event for Yellowknife youth in Sombe K'e Park. Grades 1 and 5 students participate in this water education day. GMRP team members on hand to interact with the students included Environmental Scientist Katherine Harris, Engagement Manager Sharon Low, Project Specialist Andrea Markey, and Administrative Coordinator Geneva Irwin.
At Rivers to Oceans, the Project team promoted the importance of protecting our water systems. They helped kids get up close and personal with different kinds of bugs that can be found in local waters. Tadpoles, dragon fly larva, and water beetles were all caught and identified. Despite the chilly weather, the kids and the team had lots of fun!
Testing the Health Effects Monitoring Program
The Health Effects Monitoring Program will be used to ensure the safety of Yellowknife, Dettah, and Ndilo residents during the remediation process at Giant Mine. The long-term program will establish a baseline level of contaminant exposure, which will allow the Program team to monitor the community’s health during the remediation processes. Before it starts, however, the team needs to make sure the methods they have planned will work for participants.
As next steps in the development of the program, from July 10-14, 2017, the Program team was in Yellowknife to meet with various organizations to review and finalize the questionnaires, as well as settle logistical details such as staff training protocols and data management. The Health Effects Monitoring Program will start this fall. To find out more about the program visit ykhemp.ca.
Stay safe near Giant Mine
At this time of year, many Northerners and tourists enjoy the outdoors and a variety of off-road activities. It is important to remember that the Giant Mine, including the townsite, is a contaminated site. Workers on site receive training and wear special equipment to protect them from hazards. For the public, access to the site is prohibited and trespassing is not permitted at any time because of the health and safety risks.
When near the site, please respect property boundaries and posted warning signs. Stay on the highway, where the road passes through the site. The Project team monitors the site 24 hours a day, to ensure the security and protection of the public.
Some of the health and safety risks identified at site include:
- Mine openings, excavations, open pits and quarries, and waste rock piles – Some mine openings (open shafts) are very deep, creating a serious fall hazard while others (adits/portals and declines) may be unstable or have loose rock and depleted oxygen. Open pits and quarries can have steep rock walls or loose rock that can be a fall or crushing hazard. Waste rock piles can be unstable and prone to rock slides if disturbed. Unstable ground conditions may be present as well (risk of crown pillar failure).
- Chemicals, tailings and other hazardous waste – Potentially harmful substances are present at site as by-products of mill processing. As well, structures may contain hazardous materials such as arsenic, asbestos, lead, PCBs, or glycol.
- Abandoned buildings and infrastructure – Structures such as head frames, mill complexes, maintenance buildings, warehouses or camps deteriorate over time and may no longer be structurally stable. Buildings also provide shelter for wildlife, creating risk of physical attack or biological exposures to diseases like rabies or Hantavirus (a virus carried by some rodents).
- Contaminated soil – The site may contain hydrocarbon and/or metal-contaminated soil which should be avoided.
For more information about the Giant Mine Remediation Project, please call Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada at 867-669-2426 or visit www.giant.gc.ca.
Water Treatment and Discharge
Water treatment has once again started at the Giant Mine Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP). Treated water was being stored until late June, when it was safe to begin discharging the water. Treated mine water is discharged from the Polishing Pond after testing. For more information about water treatment and discharge at the Giant Mine site, please visit our website.
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