IQALUIT – Today, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, on behalf of the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, announced that the Department of National Defence (DND) has awarded a contract valued at $14.7 million for the shipment and disposal of Hazardous Waste Material as part of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line Clean-up Project. The contract was awarded to Qikiqtaaluk Environmental Inc. of Iqaluit, Nunavut.
“I am very proud of our government’s ongoing commitment to preserving the North, and to supporting this region’s local workers and companies,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “Today’s announcement once again demonstrates our dedication to northern communities by focusing on both the health of our land, and on the people who call it home.”
“This contract award is an important step towards the completion of the DEW Line Clean-up Project,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, “This project continues to demonstrate our Government’s commitment towards the preservation of Canada’s northern region.”
The contract includes the removal and transport of hazardous waste materials from nine locations in Nunavut to specialized disposal sites further south. A key to the success of this project has been the partnership with the local Inuit people and contractors. The project has provided employment opportunities and valuable work experience to the people of Canada’s northern communities which can be transferred to other fields of work in the North.
Work planned for the overall DEW Line Clean-up Project in 2012-13 is expected to provide Inuit in Nunavut with about 130 jobs lasting from five to 60 days. The contract awarded to Qikiqtaaluk Environmental Inc. for the shipment and disposal of hazardous waste materials will provide five to ten jobs for local communities.
The DEW line was established in the late 1950s along the Arctic coastline – roughly along the 69th parallel – from northwestern Alaska to Iceland. In the early 1960s, 21 of the 42 Canadian DEW line sites were decommissioned and became the responsibility of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). The remaining 21 sites continued to be operated by DND until 1993, when operations at these sites ended.
In 1989, DND initiated the development of a plan to clean-up its 21 DEW line sites at a cost currently projected at $575 million, with a completion date of 2013. To date, 19 of the 21 DEW line sites have been cleaned up and work will continue at two other sites next summer. A 25-year monitoring program for the completed sites is also underway.
This Government and DND are committed to ensuring that the DEW line sites clean-up is conducted in a thorough and responsible manner to ensure that the environment and ecosystems in Canada’s North are preserved and protected for generations to come.