Prairie Sky site carefully selected
When asked why this site was chosen for the Prairie Sky Resource Centre (PSRC), the Prairie Sky project team provided a number of reasons for its selection.
“Geology was paramount in selecting the site,” said Project Manager Mike Gladstone. “Also important were having direct highway access, and finding communities open to new economic options and eager for job creation.”
Dave Poole of Dillon Consulting, Project Engineer for the project team, was interviewed further about the more important geological and hydrological requirements of the project site.
Does the site need to have suitable Geology?
“Absolutely - a modern waste disposal site needs to be on land with thick impermeable clay soils that act as a protective layer over any groundwater aquifers that may be present below.”
How do you find a site with suitable clay soils?
“We did an exhaustive review of geological data across southern Alberta that indicated that the impermeable clay soils in on the site exceed the criteria for this type of use. To gain more data, we have been conducting an extensive drilling program that began in September 2010 and still continues today.
The 60 m thick (200 feet) clay soils at the property exceed the regulatory requirements with Alberta Environment and are ideal to protect groundwater aquifers.”
You mentioned the term “groundwater aquifer”? What do you mean by that because people are rightly concerned about their drinking water quality?
Think of wood as the geological equivalent to the impermeable clay soils at the site. It is extremely difficult to squeeze wood with your hand to get any water out of it. This is the reason the drinking water wells on the site do not draw water from these clay soils.
A groundwater aquifer has to be located in soils that are more porous such as sands and gravels, or sandstone/limestone bedrock which is the geological equivalent to a sponge. The well on the site is over 250 feet (75 m) deep, and it sits in sand and gravel deposits. Remember that there is over 200 feet (60 m) of impermeable clay soils that are overtop of the well at the site.
The water people see at or near the surface is not the same water that they draw from their wells. It is difficult for the clay soils to absorb the water, but the thickness of these clay soils at the property provides that natural containment and is more than twice the thickness required by Alberta Environment.
Just like water cannot travel through wood, it cannot travel through these clay soils at the site. Not only will there not be any impact on the well on the site, there won’t be any impact on any wells off of the property either. As such, this area is ideal for our project site.”
The Prairie Sky team continues to emphasize the importance of transparency and respect for public concerns and questions. Feedback can be directed to the toll-free phone number (403-684-3621) or to question and comment forms available at www.prairieskycentre.com.