Surplus sea cans will house workers, washrooms, offices

Cleanup camp fits neatly into shipping containers


Ugly, sturdy and practical, shipping containers are common sights around Iqaluit and other Nunavut communities where many are reincarnated as sheds.

This summer, shipping containers will be recycled as modular units for a camp to house 30 workers involved in the clean-up of a DEW line site on the Boothia Peninsula.

The camp's 50 refitted shipping containers are to arrive on the CAM-D site this August on a sealift vessel.

Some of the 20-foot shipping containers will be divided into two rooms for workers.

These will feature all the comforts of home, said Francois Bourassa, a manager at Kudlik Construction Ltd., which won the $18 million cleanup contract for the CAM-D site.

CAM-D's units will be well-insulated, have windows and be fully wired for electricity.

"We want every worker to be as comfortable as possible in his or her room," Bourassa said.

Other shipping containers will serve as the camp's bathrooms, kitchen and offices.

Using shipping containers is ideal because they meet Kudlik's goal of building a camp that's both comfortable and easily moved, Bourassa said.

Designed to carry heavy loads and support heavy loads, the corrugated steel boxes are designed to resist harsh weather and be transported by ships, trains and trucks.

Elsewhere in the world, shipping containers have been given a second life as student residences, apartments, shopping malls, medical clinics, bank vaults, emergency shelters, data centres and shelters for cultivating marijuana plants.

Shipping containers, called "big boxes" in Africa, have also served as road blocks during riots.

Invented in 1956 by a trucker, shipping containers now transport 90 per cent of all cargo, and, as in the case of developing countries like South Africa, many end up staying in Nunavut because there is nothing produced locally that can be shipped back in them.

After the shipping containers arrive at the Boothia Peninsula, they face a journey of about five kilometers to the CAM-D site near Simpson Lake. When the clean-up is finished in 2011, the camp will be disassembled and shipped off.

CAM-D is located about 80 km west of Kugaaruk and 120 km east of Gjoa Haven, Constructed in 1957, the site closed and abandoned in 1963, and, in 1977, it was converted to a scientific research station.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, there were site assessments and work done on the contaminants at the site.

CAM-D is mainly contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls materials, which can poison both humans and animals.

The PCBs at CAM-D are in the building paints, the buildings and site litter. The soil is also contaminated with hydrocarbons and heavy metals.

A collapsed antenna, 10,000 rusting barrels and various buildings will be removed as part of the cleanup operation.

The site was identified as a priority site for cleanup under the federal contaminated sites accelerated action plan in 2003.

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