Scientists regularly test air quality to determine if mining activities at the Ekati mine, such as blasting, construction, and operating diesel generators and vehicles, are affecting air quality.
We monitor air quality annually and issue an Air Quality Monitoring Report every three years, which is posted on the Wek’èezhìi Land and Water Board website. The report discusses various aspects of air quality, as well as the results of snow and lichen monitoring. The next report will be published in 2018.
As a result of concerns that dust migration could affect vegetation and wildlife, we were asked by community groups, as well as the Independent Environmental Monitoring Agency, to continue studying ways to improve the effectiveness of dust suppression at the Ekati mine. Additionally, the Jay Project Environmental Assessment (EA) includes a measure for the Jay Project to “be designed and operated in a manner that reduces impacts to caribou, particularly from roads and dust.” Through the Jay Project EA process, Dominion committed to the ongoing evaluation and improvement of dust suppression at the Ekati mine.
The current dust management practice at the mine primarily includes the use of DL-10 (an asphalt emulsion) and road watering, both of which present various challenges. In 2015, Dominion received authorization from the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) Lands Inspector to conduct a small-scale pilot study using an alternate dust suppressant called EnviroKleen®, a product that is readily biodegradable in natural environments and non-toxic to humans, animals, plant life, and fish and aquatic systems. In other studies, EnviroKleen has proven to work in harsh conditions.
Since receiving permission, we increased the use of EnviroKleen from one kilometre of road in 2015 to nearly 10 kilometres in 2016. Results of the 2016 study indicated a decrease in dust throughout the summer following the application of EnviroKleen, suggesting that it is in fact a durable and long-lasting alternative to DL-10. Going forward, we plan to use EnviroKleen on the Misery haul road.
Incinerator Stack Emissions Testing
Another commitment under the Jay Project Environmental Assessment is for Dominion to conduct incinerator stack testing at least every three years and submit test results to the GNWT and Environment Canada. Stack testing, which was conducted in November 2016, confirmed that the two incinerators continue to operate well below the Canada-wide standards for dioxins, furans, and mercury.