Volume 1, Number 6 / April, 1998
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (AND SO ARE THE WINTERS) AT THE SITE OF CANADA'S NEWEST MINE
When Europeans first explored the tundra of the Northwest Territories, 200 km south of the Arctic Circle, they called it the Barren Lands - an area of Ice Age rock and boulders with thousands of tiny blue lakes. This area is so far north that the only vegetation it supports are small trees that cling to the ground, in addition to sedge and grass, and arctic wild flowers.
One of the largest lakes in the area, 350 km northeast of Yellowknife, is Lac de Gras. The Dogrib people call it Ekati, (English translation - Fat Lake) because the bits of quartz found on its shores resemble caribou fat. The land surrounding the lake is the traditional hunting ground of the Dene and the Inuit, where 350,000 caribou pass though each spring and fall.
In 1992, this area of the NWT was the focus of a swarm of prospectors and geologists in search diamonds. These were not industrial diamonds, but the highly prized white diamonds. The prospectors and geologists found them and continue to find them; northern Canadian gems, the so-called "ice under the ice."
Starting in October of 1998, when Canada's first diamond mine is scheduled to move into production, and $500 million worth of gems will be annually mined. This is just the first of several companies, and once the second company is into operation, $1 billion worth of diamonds will be mined and sold yearly.
The Ekati Diamond mine belonging to BHP (Broken Hill Properties) is located by Lac de Gras.
This permafrost area experiences temperatures during the winter months that may reach -54°C. The site is accessible by air and a 425-km ice road, which is open for approximately 12 weeks each year. Since construction started in 1996, the Ekati Diamond Mine has grown into a community of 700. A project of this magnitude has not been undertaken North of 60 since the Canol, and Alaska Highway projects of the early 1940's.
The five kimberlite pipes, the diamond bearing formation, which have been identified for mining by BHP are Panda, Ekati, Koala, Misery, Sable and Fox. Starting with Panda, each of the lake-covered pipes will be mined individually in sequence over a 17 year period. After crews "fish out" the small lake, under which where many of the kimberlite pipes have been found, the water is drained.
Open-pit mining methods will initially be used to mine the ore, with underground mining scheduled for Panda and Koala pits in the future. Ore will be hauled from the pits in 218-tonne trucks to the process plant, where up to 200,000 tonnes of coarse primary ore may be stock-piled. Waste rock and sediment recovered from the Panda lake bottom was crushed and used to construct haul roads, access roads and the site airstrip. .
The ore will be processed at an initial rate of 9,000 tonnes per day, potentially increasing to 18,000 tpd during the second half of the mine's life. At the process plant, the ore will be crushed, screened and washed producing a concentrate. Heavy minerals and diamonds will be recovered from the concentrate using heavy media separation, and the remaining concentrate will be moved by pneumatic conveyor to the final recovery plant where further diamonds will be sorted using x-ray technology. With this sorting system, the concentrate passes through an x-ray tube, under which the diamonds' luminescence to trigger an air jet which diverts the diamonds into an extraction chute.
The elements in the site development have included:
The engineering groups involved in the mine development are Simons Mining, and Signet Engineering.
The civil and structural engineering for the site development focussed on costs and meeting the construction schedule. Structural designs were prepared with consideration to maximizing off site assemblies, and to the load limits of the ice road access to the mine. Special planning was required for ground excavations, site grading and stockpiling of concrete aggregates and structural backfill material because of the limited construction season. Engineering techniques involved the use of piles, elevated buildings, foundation insulation and subterranean ventilation ducts minimize the disturbance to the permafrost.
The structural steel for the unheated the buildings structures has a requirement to remain ductile at low temperatures, however the availability of cold-temperature steel from Canadian and US mills is limited. This factor has resulted in relatively long lead times to secure the required sizes, shapes and quantities of steel. Engineering structural design was optimized for the steel size ranges that were available in economic quantities.
The outdoor conveyors also presented some unique design considerations. Due to the nature of kimberlite, the conveyor transfer chutes were designed with steep walls to avoid material accumulation, rather than conventional rock boxes which absorb some of the impact from falling ore. As a consequence, ore falling through the chute has a higher than normally expected impact velocity causing high impact loads on the steel support structure.
Extensive discussions were also held with conveyor belt manufacturers to select a belt that could withstand extreme temperature variations. The ultimate decision was based upon experience in similar applications, ongoing R&D, and the conditions of the belt warrantee.
Heat recovery from the diesel fired power generating system is the primary source of thermal energy for the process plant and accommodation complex at the mine. The heat is recovered from the cooling system engines of the power generators, however, Diesel fired boilers are maintained as a backup and for peak heat demands, for a total system capacity to 25 MW.
A glycol/water solution, is used to distribute the heat to various mine facilities by a district heating system. Each building has its own secondary (booster) pump, but it is directly connected to the primary loop. For safety and higher comfort, only the accommodation complex was designed with a subsystem that is separated from the main system.
A utilidor system for the site allows workers to travel to and from the process plant, truck shop and offices without exposure to extreme outdoor temperatures. The utilidors were constructed using structural steel trussed galleries with concrete floors on metal deck formwork, enclosed with insulated cladding and metal roof, and portions of the utilidor were excavated into bedrock. Each gallery contains a walkway, pipe racks and cable trays.
The tailings management plan for the mine utilizes frozen core earth dams to impound the tailings water. The first frozen core dam was completed in early 1996 and a second, larger dam is currently under construction.
The frozen core material, consisting of crushed gravel and hot water is mixed in a plant facility, loaded onto haul trucks and placed in 250 to 300 mm lifts, which freeze during a 24 hour period. The core material was initially placed in a key trench, which as been blasted to competent rock or frozen till, enabling the core material to form an impervious bond. A geo-composite liner is installed in the interior of the frozen core to provide additional strength. Crushed rock transition and shell material were placed on the upstream and downstream sides of the frozen core. Thermosyphons extend vertically through the core and beneath the base of the dam to maintain the integrity of the permafrost.
Engineering on the project was fast-tracked in order to purchase materials and equipment for transportation over the 1997 winter ice road. The ice road is a 420-km path over a series of frozen lakes and portages from Yellowknife to the Ekati site.
Over 2,000 truckloads of materials travelled across the ice road during the 12-week shipping window in 1997. On-time delivery of materials to site was critical to maintaining the construction schedule. Another 2,000 truckloads are schedule for shipment in 1998.
The Canadian Civil Engineer, January 1998.
MacLean's, January 1998.
Volume 1, Number 7 / May, 1998
THIS ISSUE FEATURES THE PROGRAM FOR THE 7TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON PERMAFROST, YELLOWKNIFE, JUNE 23 TO 27, 1998
PRELIMINARY PROGRAM - SUBJECT TO REVISION
Tuesday June 23:
Wednesday June 24:
Thursday June 25:
Friday June 26:
Scheduled excursions (additional fees to the conference itself) include the Yukon and the MacKenzie Delta, the BHP Diamond Project at Lac de Gras, the Norman Wells Pipeline, and Subarctic Quebec.
Volume 1, Number 8 / June, 1998
THIS ISSUE FEATURES AN EXCERPT FORM THE REPORT ON THE "CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON PERMAFROST ENGINEERING DESIGN" PREPARED IN MARCH 1998 BY ENVIRONMENT CANADA.
CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON PERMAFROST
Current practice in cold-region engineering involves due consideration of climate variability to assure long-term project reliability. For projects that rely on the properties of frozen materials, global climate change adds another layer of uncertainty. This report addresses the incorporation of global climate change issues into the designs and decisions involving engineering projects in permafrost.
The past decade has seen increasing attention paid to the prospect of global climate change. A scientific consensus has emerged that increased concentrations of radiatively active gases will cause an increase in the global average temperature over the next century. The consensus is based on the greenhouse effect in which certain gases in the atmosphere absorb long-wave radiation from the earth. This absorption of radiation is a normal part of the earth's energy balance and warms the earth by approximately 33°C. Evidence of increased concentrations of greenhouse gases at many observation points in the atmosphere suggest that the greenhouse effect will be enhanced. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that some global climate change has already occurred (based primarily on temperature trends) and that increased emissions of greenhouse gases due to human activity have contributed and will continue to contribute to this change. While there is considerable uncertainty in the magnitude and pace of change, the least likely scenario is considered to be no change.
Global climate change is uncertain in both magnitude and rate. The expected significance of an enhanced greenhouse effect varies widely by region and by the type of impact. While the overall energy balance of the earth is reasonably well understood, the probability and magnitude of specific regional impacts of a changed climate are currently very difficult to predict. Uncertainty increases when focussing on smaller areas where local variations in air and ocean circulation patterns and topographic features such as the presence of water bodies and mountains are increasingly important. Changes to the magnitude and likelihood of extreme events, though inherently difficult to detect or predict, could also have a significant impact.
Various climatic feedback mechanisms will amplify a global trend of increased temperature in the Arctic. The function of the polar environment as a heat sink of relatively small area (compared to the tropics) and the presence of the Arctic inversion further magnify the effects in this region. Furthermore, the impact on polar regions is expected to be particularly important due to the high degree of dependence of the natural and human environment on climate.
There are many possible types of change in the arctic environment associated with global climate change. Changes in the extent of sea ice, vegetation and wildlife patterns, for example, will have important implications for northern communities. While many changes cannot be readily abated or mitigated, facilities that are designed for long-term use are good candidates for proactive planning.
1.2 Engineering Projects in the North
Global climate change has particular significance for the permafrost environment. Permafrost is defined as a temperature condition in which earth material remains below 0°C perennially. Contrary to what its name implies, permafrost is inherently unstable. If climate warming takes place in a permafrost area, the ground temperature at depth will respond with the possibility that the permafrost would be destabilized. Changes will be felt at the surface first, propagating into the ground slowly. In the North American Arctic, tens of thousands of square kilometres of permafrost are within one or two degrees Celsius of the melting point. Therefore, much of the permafrost environment would be profoundly affected by the transition to a warmer climate.
In addition, the physical and mechanical properties of permafrost as an engineering material are temperature dependent, and this dependence is most pronounced at temperatures within one or two degrees Celsius of thawing. With a temperature increase, due to climate warming or changes in surface conditions, frozen soil will weaken. On complete thawing, it will lose its strength due to ice cementation, with implications for the stability of slopes, structures and foundations.
Engineering projects in the north often depend critically upon permafrost as a foundation material, or as a contaminant barrier, among other functions. The ability of the frozen ground to carry out these functions is dependent upon:
Under stable climate conditions, these factors can be assessed by geotechnical evaluation and professional judgement. Current engineering practice accommodates climate variability through consideration of the historical climatic record. Given the expectation of global climate change, practice must be adjusted to accommodate expected trends in climate variables relevant to the design. This requires consideration of the lifetime of the project, to determine the extent to which a climate trend will have significant impact during the useful life of the project.
1.3 Scope of this Report
This report merges current understanding of the expectation of global climate change with current engineering practice in the north. In particular, it is concerned with the development of a process to screen projects on the basis of the increased risk of failure due to climate change. The process is intended for new projects as well as for existing or abandoned facilities whose status may need to be revisited in light of climate change. Since assessment of global climate change is a resource-intensive exercise, it is not intended that every project be subject to the most rigorous analysis available. However, it is important that facilities posing significant consequences in the event of failure, and whose performance is sensitive to global climate change, undergo due scrutiny.
The process was developed to address the broad spectrum of engineering projects and the great variability in the risks of failure. The screening process could be applied during environmental review proceedings to prescribe the level of analysis to be supplied by the proponent in support of a facility license application. Alternatively, a public sector agency with an inventory of existing infrastructure could use the process to identify those facilities where concern should be focussed.
It is important to recognize that the process does not estimate risk. Rather, it classifies a project according to: (i) the severity of the consequences of failure and (ii) the sensitivity of the failure modes to climate change. The sensitivity factor is based on the underlying temperature sensitivity adjusted for climate change based on the project lifetime.
Due to the wide spectrum of engineering projects that are dependent upon permafrost conditions, there is considerable variety in the types and severity of consequences that result from failure. At one extreme, a temporary road may experience thaw settlement resulting in minor inconvenience or some maintenance costs. In another project, permafrost may be used as a contaminant barrier or dam structure where failure would result in considerable disruption to a community. A failure may result in adverse effects on human or ecosystem health (e.g. loss of freshwater supply, environmental contamination), socio-cultural disruption (e.g. isolation due to road outages or airstrip damage), or economic costs (e.g. damage to buildings, increased maintenance costs).
Regional details of global climate change are uncertain. While global climate change is often simplified to the term global warming, on a regional basis there could be a net cooling trend, a change in the amount and seasonal pattern of precipitation, or in a change in the frequency of extreme events. Even if the exact changes in climatic parameters could be known, ranking their importance with respect to permafrost behaviour is not immediately evident. A change in the seasonal or annual variability in temperature could have a greater impact than a change in the average annual temperature. Similarly, a change in precipitation patterns could have a greater impact on permafrost than an increase in average temperature. At the current level of understanding, most of these changes cannot be forecast with sufficient precision to influence design procedures.
Given the uncertainty described above, it may be reasonable to perform only limited climate change analysis for some engineering projects. Several factors, individually and in combination, may make a project relatively insensitive to climate change:
(i) where the permafrost temperature is significantly below the thawing point,
(ii) where the material properties are not highly dependent upon temperature,
(iii) where the project lifetime is relatively short,
(iv) where considerable over-design has been included for other reasons, or
(v) where failure consequences are negligible.
However, the need for climate change analysis is not necessarily a simple "yes or no" decision. The screening process points to an appropriate level of analysis, ranging from qualitative analysis to detailed thermal modelling involving a variety of future climate scenarios and proposed mitigation strategies. This report will also review some of the types of analyses available to consider climate change in this context.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT DAVID ETKIN (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Volume 1, Number 9 / July, 1998
THIS ISSUE FEATURES
- An article on Ice Station SHEBA
- Abstracts from the June 1998 Issue of the ASCE Journal of Cold Regions Engineering
ICE STATION SHEBA
The U.S. National Science Foundation is spending $19 million (US) on a landmark research program named SHEBA (for "Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean"), in an urgent attempt to comprehend the plant's enigmatic climate, and particularly the threat of global warming.
The project headquarters is the 107 metre long Canadian icebreaker Des Groseilliers, which has been stationed in the ice pack about 560 km north of Alaska since October 1997. It is now a full-time research station and remote camp, surrounded by sea ice several metres thick and by several dozen scientists busily and often painfully trying to comprehend what until now has been a great unknown. Namely, how clouds, air, snow, ice and water exchange energy in this sparsely studied region where winter temperatures can dip to -40 and windchills routinely hit minus triple digits.
Their tools range from state-of-the-art sensors costing tens of thousands of dollars to trowels, whisk brooms and shovels. When they're through, they hope to have a comprehensive physical portrait of the Arctic ice formation, a titanic floating refrigerator about the size of Canada that serves as the heat sink for the Northern Hemisphere. According to available data, its extent has been shrinking ominously for the past 20 years, at two percent to three percent per decade.
This result is a concern because the Arctic sea-ice cover is expected to be a disproportionately important factor in potential worldwide climate change. Many scientists believe that the slight global warming observed during this century is the result of a growing atmospheric concentration of "greenhouse" gases, such as carbon dioxide, that trap heat in the air.
Some computer models show that a doubling of carbon dioxide in the air would melt all the Arctic sea ice in 50 years. Other simulations, using different assumptions, yield dramatically different results, but all the simulations agree that the Arctic will be especially sensitive to atmospheric effects because it is so susceptible to "positive feedback loops" - conditions in which a little bit of warming makes more warming likely.
Unfortunately, what little is understood about the Arctic is often based on fragmented and uncoordinated research conducted at different times by different kinds of investigators.
SHEBA has scientists from several nations and universities taking simultaneous readings throughout a representative cylindrical "column" of Arctic environment that extends from the clouds and air masses 24 km high, to snow and ice at sea level and to the sea water 150 metres or more beneath the ice.
With 24 hour daylight the scientists are out morning and night. When they're not collecting data, they're tearing into the meals provided by the icebreaker's French Canadian galley staff with a gusto that might seem gluttonous elsewhere but makes sense on the ice, where a person of average size can easily burn 5,000 calories a day - two to three times the normal expenditure.
One scientific group is conducting an audit of exactly how much light of each of 500 different wavelengths is absorbed, reflected or conducted by each element of the Arctic surface - essential information for understanding how the region warms and cools. Group members take measurements around the area, using instruments that measure the total incoming sunlight, the amount reflected, the amount absorbed and even - via a fibre-optic probe that they snake under the ice sheet - the trickle of photons that make it all the way through to the water beneath.
This data will eventually be correlated with cloud information data, analysis of the snow layer, pressure and stress readings from the ice sheet, water currents and numerous other factors to provide a detailed audit.
Other researchers keep their equipment at fixed locations. Spread across the ice around the ship are clusters of tents and plywood shacks containing various experiments. Each site has been whimsically given a name such as Baltimore, Seattle, Atlanta and Ocean City. One nylon-covered tent city, containing the manhole-sized apertures through which divers descend to sample the algae that grow on the bottom of the ice sheet, is known as "Blue Bayou" for its distinctive hue.
Some of the instruments require constant tending. Some, such as the 18 metre tower array that continuously measures air speed, temperature, humidity and other qualities, are almost entirely automatic.
Already SHEBA oceanographers have found dramatic changes since 1975, when a research program called AIDJEX sampled the seawater in the same area. The topmost layer of water immediately under the ice is much fresher and much warmer than it was in 1975.
Not only is the ice shifting incessantly, but the whole Arctic ice pack is moving - and so is the ship, even though the Des Groseilliers' 14,000 horsepower engines are still. The wind blows clockwise around the North Pole, and drags the sea ice along with it. So the ship has moved over a jittery course since October, travelling about 1,280 km to end up about 640 km west of its original location. The largest shift was around 32 km in 24 hours; the least was about 23 metres.
In fact, the biggest worry for SHEBA's scientists is that the station will drift into the thin edge of the ice too soon, before complete measurements are made. But whatever happens, the SHEBA scientists will study it.
Edited from article in the Edmonton Journal, June 7, 1998.
Abstracts from ASCE Journal of Cold Regions Engineering - June 1998
STRUCTURAL ICE CONTROL: A REVIEW
By Andrew M. Tuthill, Member, ASCE
ABSTRACT: This paper reviews the state of the art in structural ice control, addressing the ranges as well as the limitations of ice retention methods in use today. Structural techniques are grouped according to the main purpose of ice formation and breakup ice control. The objectives and performance of a range of existing ice retention structures are discussed, with special attention given to innovative methods. Typical hydraulic conditions of application for different types of structures are considered, and possible future directions in structural ice control research and development are discussed.
FIELD-SCALE IN SITU COMPLIANCE OF ARCTIC
FIRST YEAR SEA ICE
By R.M. Adamson and J.P. Dempsey, Fellow, ASCE
ABSTRACT: This paper presents the experimental results and analysis of the creep recovery and cyclic loading crack-opening-displacement measurements recorded on level first-year sea ice at Barrow, Alaska. This was the third of a three-trip program to track the seasonal evolution of the mechanical and physical properties of first-year S2 sea ice. Seven large-scale in situ experiments were completed covering a size range of 1:30 with the largest test having dimensions of 30 m x 30 m. The creep recovery response from the largest test specimen is examined in this paper to determine the compliance of a precracked square-plate test geometry via a non-linear viscoelastic/ viscoplastic formulation. This model is then applied to the cyclic loading, and a monotonic ramp to fracture, to quantify its ability to predict the behaviour for a variety of loading paths.
PREDICTING FROST HEAVE USING FROST MODEL
WITH CENTRIFUGE MODELS
By Dan Yang and Deborah J. Goodings
ABSTRACT: The FROST numerical model was used to predict frost heave developing in centrifuge soil models. When uncalibrated predictions of heave using Gardner's coefficients were selected from accompanying FROST documentation based on soil grain size, the predictions were not good. However, when the parameters were calibrated to surface heave developing in one set of models of heave in silt, numerical predictions for other freezing conditions in the same silt showed very good matches to centrifuge model data of heave. These close matches occurred not only in heave development patterns but also in statistical distributions when variations of input soil parameters were considered. The same good fit after a similar calibration exercise was not found in either heave developments or statistical distributions in the case of silty clay, which develops heave following a different pattern. Predicted ultimate depths of frost penetration were considerably less than measured penetrations, and final water contents (frozen and unfrozen) predicted after freezing were reasonably close to centrifuge model results. A sensitivity analysis of seven input soil parameters required for the FROST model was conducted using the Monte Carlo simulation technique to assess the response of the FROST model to their random variation. Based on this analysis, the FROST model was found to be most sensitive to those parameters characterizing movement and retention of water, especially the Gardner's coefficients for unsaturated conditions. These parameters are also the most difficult to measure reliably, and therefore back calculation of these values is common. Data obtained from centrifuge models of soil freezing can therefore provide an attractive design calibration and research tool.
SITE INVESTIGATIONS OF FUEL SPILL MIGRATION
By Kevin W. Biggar, Saleh Haidar, Michael Nahir, and Peter M. Jarrett
ABSTRACT: In the summers of 1995 and 1996 subsurface investigations were conducted to examine the vertical migration of petroleum hydrocarbons into the permafrost at two different sites in the Canadian Arctic where fuel spills had previously occurred: Canadian Forces Station Alert on the Northern tip of Ellesmere Island, and Isachsen High Arctic Weather Station on Ellef Ringnes Island. Petroleum hydrocarbon contamination was found below the permafrost table in excess of 1.5 m at Alert, and in excess of 0.6 m at Isachsen, both depths being the maximum depths of the investigations. This paper provides the detailed results of these investigations with an explanation of the expected transport mechanisms. The results show that the permafrost may not be an impermeable barrier to nonaqueous phase liquid (NAPL) contamination under some circumstances.
Volume 1, Number 10 / August, 1998
THIS ISSUE FEATURES AN ARTICLE ON "THE NEW NORTH" WHICH FOCUSES ON THE CHANGING FACE OF THE NWT WITH THE DIVISION OF THE NUNAVUT TERRITORY, APRIL 1, 1999.
THE NEW NORTH
Edited from Maclean's Magazine - August 3, 1998
In early summer, at well past midnight, the sky is still luminous, the sun glancing off the igloo-shaped dome of the Northwest Territories legislature in Yellowknife. North of the 60th parallel it is eternal day, when dawn and dusk no longer parenthesize the drift of time, and in the relentless light, sleep is hard to come by.
The legislature is in session and the 24 members of the 13th - and very last - assembly of the Northwest Territories faces several crucial tasks. Most importantly, they must continue their work of dividing the Northwest Territories, creating two distinct governments in the Eastern and Western Arctic by the deadline of April 1, 1999 - just eight months from now.
It is, indeed, a historic undertaking. Cartographers last redrew the map of Canada in 1949, when Newfoundland entered Confederation. Now, the Eastern Arctic will become the territory of Nunavut - meaning Our Land in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit people who will make up 83 percent of the population. A name for the western territory has not yet been chosen, but creating two new entities means far more than rejiggering the map of northern Canada or dreaming up new names. Division has entailed carving up government bureaucracy, dividing assets and liabilities, training new civil servants, devising new constitutions and new forms of government. It has meant splitting up unions, such as the Northwest Territories Teachers' Association. It has meant giving the Inuit control of their own government and land and recognizing the growing influence of aboriginal groups in the western territory. Most of all, it has meant a new beginning to the people of the North.
For more than 20 years, the Inuit have been agitating for their own lands. In 1993, during its final months in power, the Mulroney government ratified the $1.14 billion Inuit land claim and laid the groundwork for a new territorial government through the Nunavut Act. The new territory's population of 24,665 will be smaller than that of many towns in southern Canada. But its administrative area will be a massive 2.2 million square kilometres, a jigsaw array of remote polar islands and vast inland stretches of tundra. It will be twice the size of Ontario and traverse three time zones. The western territory will cover 1.17 million square kilometres mainly below the tree line, a land rich in diamonds, oil and gas, and gold, with a mixed population of 39,460 Dene, Metis, Cree, Inuvialuit - western Inuit - and non-natives. In the west there are nine official languages - North Slavey, South Slavey, Cree, Chipewyan, Dogrib, Gwich'in, English, French and Inuvialuktun. The east, with its Inuit majority, is far more homogenous. And for the most part, the two areas of the North have always been very different in temperament: the Inuit are a gentle maritime people, the residents of the west a mixture of frontier mavericks and fractious aboriginal groups.
Governing the Northwest Territories has never been cost-efficient or easy. The round-trip airfare between Yellowknife and Iqaluit, which is on the southern part of Baffin Island, costs as much as $2,400. Homicides are twice as common as in the rest of Canada. Sexual assaults are seven times more likely. The high school graduation rate is a mere 27 percent; the area has the lowest literacy rate in Canada. The Northwest Territories also has one of the country's highest unemployment rates: 17 percent, compared with the national average of 8.4 percent. Half of its $1.2 billion budget - 74 percent of which comes from Ottawa - is invested in social programs. When split, the two territories will get a total of $95 million more, with approximately $620 million going to Nunavut, $701 million to the west. Some critics warn that Nunavut, which has fewer developed resources than the west, will be fraught with social and economic problems and dependent on federal largesse. But the Inuit argue they need to take charge of their own fate.
The lingering tension between the traditional life - most Inuit were nomadic until the 1950s, when the federal government forced them to resettle in permanent communities - and the continuing encroachment of a southern Canadian lifestyle exacerbates the social and economic problems of Nunavut and will make governing the territory a tremendous challenge. The statistics are devastating: 83 percent of Nunavut residents live in government-subsidized housing; a litre of milk costs $5, a loaf of bread $3. The suicide rate is seven times the Canadian average; in a 1996 survey, 20 percent of the adult population admitted to sniffing solvents and aerosols (compared with 0.8 percent for all of Canada).
Last fall, former Liberal MP Jack Anawak was appointed commissioner of Nunavut to oversee the hiring of civil servants and set up government infrastructure. About 600 new government jobs will be created. The goal, initially, is to have a workforce that is at least 50 percent Inuit, and that has meant hiring people who before could only have dreamed of being civil servants.
It may prove to be a painful process. On one level, the ongoing wrangling over the new territory's name is indicative of the fractious nature of the west. When the government turned to the public in 1996 for ideas, over 90 percent of the 6,000 people who participated favoured the status quo Northwest Territories, although 80 people suggested the name Bob. (A few locals, despairing that Nunavut was getting most of Ottawa's attention, said it stood for bottom of the barrel). Some aboriginal proponents favour Denendeh: Dene land.
Of the several proposed models of government that recognize aboriginal self-determination, none, so far, has been received with public enthusiasm. One involves a single territorial government, including representatives from aboriginal governments and elected officials. Another entails a smaller version of the present Northwest Territories government working in tandem with various aboriginal governments. Non-natives are concerned that their voices won't be heard if the government is dominated by aboriginal groups; First Nations people have similar fears, since the west will be slightly dominated by non-aboriginals.
The details of division, meanwhile, present further problems. There has been continued wrangling, for instance, over control of Northwest Territories Hydro. The west wants to jointly own Hydro, leaving the power company as one entity but splitting the equity, 60 percent for the west, 40 percent for Nunavut. Since most of the consumption is in the west, western representatives argue, it should have a greater stake. Nunavut politicians disagree - and want to split the utility in two. The slowness of the process, though, has in many ways left the west in limbo. Nellie Cournoyea, former premier of the Northwest Territories and a member of the Western Coalition, a technical group evaluating budgets, assets and liabilities, says that until division is settled, "It is very difficult for the west to focus on its own needs. It is the western bureaucrats who are doing most of the work to get the nuts and bolts of division in place."
Giorgio's is considered the best Italian restaurant in Yellowknife. At lunch, tuttoil mondo eats there - deputy ministers, business people, many politicians - attended to by the owner, Rocco Meraglia, and his mother, Cosimina, the chef. But Meraglia complains that business in the capital of the Northwest Territories, population 17,275, is as flat as a pizza, overburdened by government downsizing, enormous taxes - and uncertainty over the imminent division of the territories on April 1, 1999. "People are scared," Meraglia says. "There's a lot of investment going to the Eastern Arctic and Iqaluit and it's being taken out of here. So what are we going to do in 1999? In the past, at least we had gold, at least we had the government."
But the two local gold mines, the Miramar Con Mine Ltd. and the Giant Mine, owned by Royal Oak Mines Inc., are almost mined out and have become costly to run. As a result, there has been downsizing at Giant, while close to 150 workers at Con have been on strike since May 14 over a new collective agreement. About 500 federal and territorial government jobs, meanwhile, have disappeared, a consequence of diminishing transfer payments from Ottawa and plans for territorial division. More civil service positions are in the process of being shifted to Nunavut. And even jobs outside of government are hard to come by. "I have 185 applications for waiters and waitresses," says Meraglia, 32. "I have a staff that won't give up a shift for fear someone will get their job."
Yellowknife Mayor Dave Lovell concedes that division has produced a palpable anxiety. "There is uncertainty about jobs being lost," says Lovell, during a breakfast interview at the frontier city's Wild Cat Café. "You've got people on hold and they aren't spending." But there is also a certain optimism. In the early 1990s, diamonds were discovered in the North and the first mine, Ekati, will come on stream next year. The diamond mining business has brought some new people to town - about 50 employees of BHP Diamonds Inc., the operator of the new mine - and real estate is beginning to move again. Upper-end houses in the old town, on streets such as Ragged Ass Road, are selling for upwards of $300,000. The promise of new mines is spurring secondary industries, such as heavy equipment. And tourism is booming, especially among the Japanese; so far this year, 5,000 visited the city. The Japanese are convinced that spending time under the northern lights brings good luck. The residents of Yellowknife are crossing their fingers, too.
COUNTDOWN TO DIVISION
Volume 1, Number 11 / September, 1998
This issue of UMA CRYOFRONT focuses on an innovation in freeze protection for individual water services in Cold Regions. UMA CRYOFRONT wishes to thank Wayne Tuck, P.Eng., of the City of Whitehorse, and Sean Kimmons of Water Matrix for their contributions to this issue.
A REMINDER THAT ABSTRACTS FOR THE 1ST COLD REGIONS SPECIALTY CONFERENCE IN 1999 ARE DUE ON OCTOBER 16, 1998. 250 WORD ABSTRACTS MAY BE SUBMITTED TO THE EDITOR OF UMA CRYOFRONT (email@example.com).
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TCB'S? WHAT IN THE WORKS IS A TCB?
People in the City of Whitehorse may have been hearing City employees Jim McLeod and Ron Kirschner talking about TCB's. Or they may have also seen the TCB display that the Engineering Department recently put up in the City's information booth at the annual Lion's Club Trade Show. But what in the blazes is a TCB anyway?
Well, a TCB is a Thermostatically Controlled Bleeder device that the City will be starting to install in 1998 in residential homes currently serviced with older type water services where protection from freezing temperatures is accomplished by the use of bleeders.
In the City of Whitehorse, there are approximately 1,500 residential dwellings which currently use authorized water bleeders for frost protection of their water services.
Each water bleeder uses almost 300 cubic metres of water each year, and this is equivalent to filling one-half of the local City pool. For those 1,500 residents, the total amount of water that is wasted each year to bleeding fills this pool 750 times.
Each year, bleed water is chlorinated, pumped to the dwelling, and then flows directly into our sewer system. From there, it is pumped again to our sewage lagoon for treatment.
Over the past few years, the Engineering and Public Works Departments have been working with a couple of private companies to come up with an efficient, cost effective way in which to reduce the amount of bleeding water existing homes use each year. In 1994, we commenced a pilot project installing six thermostatically controlled devices to replace existing bleeders.
These thermostatically controlled bleeders do not bleed water continuously, but only when the water temperatures are low enough to present a concern for freezing.
The results of this pilot project were impressive. These new bleeders were found to reduce the amount of bleeding water by over 90% each year.
Starting in 1998, the City of Whitehorse will spend $1.4 million over three years to implement a bleeder reduction program, installing these thermostatically controlled bleeders in 1,500 homes. This program is estimated to save the City $85,000 in costs each year.
Wayne Tuck, P.Eng.
THERMALLY CONTROLLED BLEEDER TECHNOLOGY
Applied modern electronic technology to water conservation has resulted in a custom freeze protection product which meets all the concerns of the City of Whitehorse effectively and efficiently. After much research and development Water Matrix addressed the bleeder issue by producing the No Freeze Sentinel.
The No Freeze Sentinel system is comprised of three main components. The brains of the system is a programmable electronic control unit with LED display. An intelligent digital temperature sensing (IDTS) module monitors the pipe temperature which is constantly displayed on the LED readout and the flow of water is achieved through the use of a piercing clamp/solenoid valve assembly.
The inlet pipe temperature is constantly and accurately monitored just inside the building envelope by the IDTS module which in turn activates a programmed bleed cycle at a preset temperature to prevent the pipes from freezing. When compared to the constant bleeding now utilized by a significant number of houses in the winter months the No Freeze Sentinel provides a reduction of bleeding in excess of 90%.
A feature which sets this product apart is the total programmability of all the parameters. The system is designed to function throughout the year, thus there are three distinct modes of operation.
In the winter time the system is set in the "winter" mode. The three programmable inputs for this mode are as follows: (1) the duration in minutes which you wish the water to flow (the amount of time the solenoid valve is open for), (2) the duration in minutes of the interval between water flows (the amount of time the solenoid valve is powered closed), and (3) the specific temperature in degrees Celsius at which point you wish to trigger the system to initiate the programmed flow of water.
These settings are accomplished through the ease of push button programming and the use of the LED display.
In the summer time the system is set to the "summer" mode. During this period of time the pipe is not at risk of freezing, therefore the system is designed to activate a programmed water flow by inputting a duration of so many minutes (1 to 59) every so many hours (1 to 99). This periodic operation exercises the system rather than having the system remain dormant.
The final operational mode is the "vacation" mode. This mode was designed to operate when a homeowner leaves the residence for any length of time, particularly during the winter months. The system allows a constant regulated flow of water. Since the homeowner would be absent, and there would be no other flow of water in the house, a flow of water rather than periodic flow of water is required to ensure that the sanitary sewer does not freeze.
The "vacation" mode of operation was developed as an outcome of a frozen sewer experience by the City Engineer during the field testing several years ago (thanks Mitch).
The solenoid valve is "powered closed", therefore, should there ever be an interruption in power, the solenoid would allow a constant flow of water, thus preventing freezing until the power was restored.
The system is designed to be quickly and easily installed as close as possible to the point of entry of the water supply line into a building envelope.
The control unit plugs into a normal outlet and the other components of the system are low voltage. (Control unit - 120V Ac/60 Hz/35W 24V DC/1.2 amp output. Solenoid valve 10W rating 24V DC @ 500 ma. IDTS module 5V DC.)