Benefits for the Inuvialuit Community
In addition to restoring the land, the focus throughout the project has been to ensure the Inuvialuit community derives benefit from it. “We have worked with local contractors, businesses and individuals on every aspect of the project from the outset,” says project director, Lenz Haderlein. “During the summer we have around 40 folks in camp on site at any one time, of which at least two thirds are Inuvialuit. We have also been collaborating closely with the local regulators and Water Board as well as engaging with the local people, keeping them informed through regular public consultations.”
The remediation works have included marine shore stabilization and the restoration of a dock, a long-term benefit for the locals to use for fishing, storage and other purposes. Further improvements for seafarers include the removal of wooden pilings from another old dock that were presenting a navigational hazard.
The community is also making good use of the concrete that was left on site. Climate change and rising sea levels are causing coastal erosion and increasing flooding in the village of Tuktoyaktuk. With local support, rather than dispose of the concrete we have been cutting it into slabs to haul over to the village to create flood defences.
Reducing climate risks
Working in such a remote area in the Canadian Arctic presents many challenges, particularly in the context of climate change and the necessity to preserve the precious, but fragile, tundra environment.
Protecting permafrost is critical, since any damage to permafrost has serious environmental implications. Already vulnerable due to global warming, permafrost is essential to maintain the stability of the tundra ecosystems yet is itself a significant contributor to global climate change if it melts. Permafrost also takes a long time to repair itself from physical disturbance.
A rigorous permafrost protection plan is in place throughout the excavation effort, covering and protecting the permafrost with clean soil as soon as impacted soil and debris is removed.