Soil bioremediation at Kuujjuaq Airport

Remediating hydrocarbon-contaminated soil, in partnership with a local Inuit company, helped pave the way for an environmental upgrade at the Kuujjuaq Airport in Canada's sub-Arctic.

Kuujjuaq, the largest Inuit community in Nunavik, Northern Quebec, is only accessible by air and maritime transport. Replacing the terminal at the remote community's airport became a matter of enhanced safety and security. So did remediating the fuel-contaminated soil that was excavated and stockpiled during the pre-construction phase.

Restoring the environment

Work on Kuujjuaq Airport's new terminal began in 2011. That's when Public Work & Government Services Canada (PWGSC) turned to us to clean the contaminated soil at the terminal. We used a biological process to remediate the hydrocarbon-impacted soil. The technology, called bioremediation or biopiles, is based on the biodegradation of the hydrocarbon chains, resulting in water and carbon dioxide as by-products.

After two seasons of treatment, all the contaminated soil—6,000 tonnes—was remediated to residential standards and backfilled on the site. The site was then landscaped to allow positive drainage and the construction of the new buildings.

Helping develop Aboriginal businesses

Nunavik is home to the Inuit of Quebec. Our experts joined forces with WG Nunavik Contractor, a local business, to deliver the project. We teamed up with the Inuit company as part of the federal government's Set-Aside Program for Aboriginal Business.

The federal program aims to ensure that First Nations, Inuit and Métis share in Canada's economic opportunities and prosperity. It establishes requirements for involving Aboriginal businesses in projects and driving economic benefits to the local community.

Delivered on schedule... safely

We worked with our Inuit partner to efficiently remediate the soil while respecting both the project schedule and stringent airport safety requirements. A highly collaborative relationship with our client also facilitated the process. So did our team's knowledge of the Inuit culture and ability to work in remote northern locations. Excellent community relations enabled us to rapidly find solutions to challenges and complete the project on time.

Positive economic spinoffs

We looked to the local community for the majority of the project's workforce and heavy equipment. This created positive economic spinoffs for Kuujjuaq. Sharing our knowledge in soil remediation with WG Nunavik Contractors helped the company diversify its activities.

 Sustainability achievements:
  • We remediated 6,000 tonnes of hydrocarbon-contaminated soil, preserving the immediate environment and safeguarding workers and residents' health and safety.
  • Working with an Inuit partner enabled us to quickly find solutions as well as transfer expertise in soil decontamination to the local community.
  • We used a largely local workforce and heavy equipment suppliers, generating economic benefits locally.

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