Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 10, 2014 - 2:04 pm

Military completes clean-up of 21 DEW Line stations

Aboriginal Affairs continues remediation of other 21 sites

PETER VARGA
The Department of National Defense completed a $575 million clean-up project of 21 DEW Line sites in Canada. The system consisted of 63 Arctic radar sites, pictured above, built to monitor North America’s northern frontier at the height of the Cold War. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
The Department of National Defense completed a $575 million clean-up project of 21 DEW Line sites in Canada. The system consisted of 63 Arctic radar sites, pictured above, built to monitor North America’s northern frontier at the height of the Cold War. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The Department of National Defense has finished the clean-up of 21 DEW Line sites in the Canadian Arctic, the federal government announced March 7.

The $575 million clean-up is “the largest environmental remediation project, both in scale and investment, ever undertaken by the Government of Canada,” the defense department (DND) stated in a news release.

Canadian Treasury Board President Tony Clement announced in Yellowknife on behalf of DND that all contaminated soils and debris at the sites have been removed.

“Some work remains at four of the 21 sites,” DND stated in the March 7 news release, “including removal of temporary infrastructure such as tents, which were used in the clean-up project.”

Strung out along the entire stretch of the Canadian Arctic, the Distant Early Warning Line sites were part of a system of radar stations, built in the mid-1950s to defend North America from enemy aircraft during the Cold War.

Planned, built and “largely funded by the United States according to an international agreement,” the DEW Line had 63 radar sites in total, extending from northwestern Alaska to Iceland, according to DND. Of these, 42 were located in Canada.

The defence department launched a clean-up plan in 1989 for all its 21 sites still in operation. The other 21 had been decommissioned in the early-1960s, and became the responsibility of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

DND’s clean-up plan includes a 25-year monitoring program of the sites to ensure they are safe.

Remediation work in at least one of the other 21 sites managed by Aboriginal and Northern Affairs continues.

Defense Construction Canada recently requested an extension for a land-use permit at one of the sites known as Cape Young, about 150 kilometres northwest of Kugluktuk, in order to remove “PCB materials” from the area in 2014, according to documents filed with the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

Remediation of the Cape Young station will be completed after the contractor removes the materials this year.

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