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At Resolution Island , Nunavut , a large quantity of PCBs were found to be present at the site in 1993. From 1994 to 1996, work was conducted by the ASU to stabilize the situation. PCB liquids were removed from transformers and safely stored, capacitors were containerised, barriers were designed and constructed in PCB leachate pathways on the land, the whole area was delineated for PCBs and metals and the contents of many barrels were analysed. Since 1997, cleanup of the site has started and is now being managed by the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, an Inuit company from Iqaluit.
The weather on Resolution Island often affects the cleanup operation. In 1999 a severe ice storm halted excavation for 5 days. The helicopter and heavy machinery were immobilized.
In 2000, a mobile laboratory unit was designed, equipped and taken to the island. The 45ft module contains a GC/ECD for PCB and TPH analysis, a fume-hood for safe chemical handling, gas generators for the GC, vacuum and water chiller units for the rotary evaporator, a shaker unit and associated glassware and solvents, and a whole variety of sampling and safety equipment related to working at a contaminated site.
The ASU is able to provide a quick analysis time turnaround time with the mobile laboratory and can use the back up of immunoassay test kits or, when results are required immediately. In addition, sub-samples are routinely sent back to the laboratory in Kingston , again as a back-up procedure and for QA/QC.
Barrel testing is a large part of the work at a typical site. Many sites have thousands of barrels scattered over a large area. The composition of their contents is generally mixtures of fuel, lubricating oil and grease and water and glycol. Some contain unusual antifreeze compounds and degreasers and some are contaminated with PCBs and metals. A protocol (the DEW Line Clean Up Protocol for Barrels) was developed by the ASU for use at all DEW Line sites.
ASU personnel have been involved in researching the various ways of treating PCB contaminated soil. Research has been conducted into PCBs destruction using Fentons reagent both in the laboratory and in the Arctic . Two processes, thermal desorption and solvent extraction, were assessed by the ASU for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada by analysing products in trials carried out by companies hoping to use their equipment at Resolution Island. The ASU was also heavily involved in the production of an Environmental Impact Statement as part of the approvals mechanism for disposing of the PCB contaminated soils required by the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB).