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Environmental Update December 2016 - Sediment Removal and Next Steps

Posted on Thursday December 22, 2016

In our last Environmental Update, we announced that we would be going back into the Makami River to clean three sites that showed traces of oil slightly higher than acceptable limits. Today, we would like to update you on our progress and explain the next steps.

Sediment Removal

From November 7 through December 6, 2016, CN completed sediment removal work targeting the three areas near the Bailey bridge. CN worked with regulatory agencies including the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to develop an acceptable plan and obtain the required permits to work in the river. The regulatory agencies provided feedback to CN to make sure the plan was protective of the environment, including the water and fish.

A precision hydraulic sediment removal system (Sand Wand™) was used to remove the sediment from the river bottom in a controlled manner. The Sand Wand™ system used a water jet to vacuum the sediment into a settling tank. The Sand Wand™ removed only the fine-grained sediment from the river bottom while leaving the rocks and pebbles that serve as fish habitat. The Sand Wand™ also prevented sediment from getting washed downstream.

Once in the settling tank, the water-sediment mixture passed through a series of compartments designed to separate the river water from the sediment. The river water was then pumped into a temporary storage tank. The water in the temporary storage tank was sampled for oil to ensure that it met the regulator’s rigourous water quality standards.

Riverbed Restoration

Following the sediment removal activities, CN placed river stone and pea gravel in the river to restore the river bottom to its original depth and shape. CN also used river stone and pea gravel to restore the nearshore aquatic habitat areas. This diversifies the aquatic habitat and is appropriate for bass spawning.

Winter Activities

With the onset of winter weather, heavy equipment has left the site. Containment booms were removed from the river prior to freeze-up.

The site will be monitored electronically on a daily basis and personnel will be on site to carry out regular inspections of containment areas and overall site conditions throughout the winter.

The site continues to be open to the public visiting on foot. To protect rehabilitation areas, CN is asking the public not to enter the site on motorized vehicles. Also, objects buried in snow within the rehabilitation areas may cause personal injury or damage to vehicles.

Spring Work

Site restoration activities will resume during the spring thaw. CN will monitor weather conditions and forecasts, in consultation with local community and First Nations leaders as well as regulatory agencies, to determine the appropriate time to resume on-site activities for 2017. Once the ice has cleared from the river, CN will redeploy booms in a similar configuration as 2016. River booms are currently stored on-site for easy access, if needed.

CN will conduct shoreline cleanup assessments of the Makami River and Minisinakwa Lake downstream of the derailment site during the spring thaw. The assessments will help determine the condition of the river. Restoration and investigative work will continue throughout 2017. CN is currently planning the next steps and will communicate the work plan for 2017 to the regulatory agencies and the public during the winter of 2017.

CN will continue to repair the environmental damage that followed the 2015 derailment. We take the health and safety of residents, wildlife and the ecosystem very seriously.

Please contact a CN site representative at 705-266-4417 with any questions or concerns.

For more information see attachment.