Doig River First Nation has been awarded for its work with industry and the Province of British Columbia to clean up orphan wells in its traditional territory near Fort St. John.
The Environmental Managers Association of B.C. presented Doig River with an Indigenous Project Award on June 13 for its innovative orphan well restoration pilot project.
The project includes Doig River, industry contractors, and the BC Oil and Gas Commission to tackle the long-term job of restoring hundreds of orphan well sites.
“Doig River has experienced a lot of activity in its territory over the last 40 years and we would like to be part of the solution to reclaim and restore the land,” Doig River Chief Trevor Makadahay said in a statement.
“This is important to our community, so we can exercise our treaty rights on a landscape that is healthy and back to its natural state.”
Reclaiming an orphan well site is no small job: each is assessed for its contamination of soil and groundwater, and contaminated materials are then removed and taken to a disposal facility for treatment, or is treated on site, depending on the scale of contamination.
After contaminated materials are removed, and wellheads and pumpjacks dismantled and recycled, reclamation begins, which includes replacing top soil, landscaping, and ongoing soil and water sampling.
The budget to clean up a well site varies depending on its size and contamination levels.
Doig River received $2,000 from the Environmental Managers Association of B.C. to go along with the award. Those funds will go toward training a member of the community in environmental practices and field work.
“We would like to thank the EMA of BC for this opportunity to achieve our vision to be a leader in the area of environmental restoration of orphan wells,” Makadahay said.