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Contaminated soil to be removed from First Nation land

Quebec firm awarded clean-up contract for Couchiching First Nation former industrial site
Supplied photo of Couchiching First Nation contaminated site.

A Quebec environmental company has been awarded a contract to clean up a contaminated brownfield site on First Nation land near Fort Frances.

Montreal’s SANEXEN Environmental Services said in a news release that it’s signed onto a large-scale environmental remediation project located on the Couchiching First Nation land in northwestern Ontario.

Over the years, the land has been a sawmill site, a wood treatment plant, and an asphalt production facility, among other industrial uses.

It’s part of a multi-phase effort to restore the area “to clean and safe land for use by the community,” the company said in the release.

SANEXEN will be treating and disposing 44,000 tonnes of contaminated soils off-site along with cleaning rocks in place, removing construction and demolition debris and restoring the site for future use. 

The site remediation work to be performed during this phase involves:

  • Clearing of the wooded area
  • Establishment of a laydown and staging area
  • Construction of temporary roads within the site
  • Excavation, loading and disposal of debris and contaminated soils
  • Abandonment of monitoring wells

The remediation work of this phase of the project starts this month and continues until October. Most of the soil excavation and hauling takes place between June and September.

The company said a priority will be to ensure that the land surrounding the site remains protected with little disruption to the community and the local economy.

In the release, the company said it currently has six successful Indigenous business partnerships in Québec, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and New Brunswick. Over the past decade, they've worked extensively in Northern Ontario on projects with Weenusk, Attawapiskat and Fort Severn First Nations.

"We're proud to demonstrate our commitment to Northern Canada through our work on essential environmental remediation projects such as this," said company executive vice president Éric Sauvageau in a statement.

"We are thrilled have assembled a specialized team of experts for this project who are ready to hit the ground running, with unmatched technical knowledge, proven methodologies and years of experience in site remediation."


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