PMI North Saskatchewan Chapter is pleased to announce the winner of the 2016 Project of the Year award. The recipients of the award are:
- Project Manager for Winning Submission: Dianne Allen
- Project Sponsor for Winning Submission: Joe Muldoon
- Project Executing Organisation: Saskatchewan Research Council
- Project Sponsoring Organisation: Saskatchewan Ministry of Economy
Project: SRC Lorado Remediation Project
Project Manager: Dianne Allen, PMP, Saskatchewan Research Council
Project background: The former Lorado Uranium Mill is located 8km from the remote settlement of Uranium City, in northern Saskatchewan. From 1957-1960, ore from surrounding uranium mines was processed to extract uranium. In its short time of operation, the mill left behind the environmental legacy of:
- an acidic lake;
- an expanse of exposed tailings;
- infrastructure and debris scattered across the landscape.
Project objective: The Lorado Remediation Project objective was completion of sustainable remediation to reduce the risks that the site posed to people, wildlife and aquatic life.
- Consolidation and covering of the uranium mill tailings to reduce downstream impacts and risks to humans and wildlife;
- Consolidation and burial of mill infrastructure and debris;
- In-situ treatment of Nero Lake water to obtain a neutral pH and reduction of downstream impacts on water quality;
- Revegetation of disturbed land areas;
- Maximize local sustainable development opportunities.
Management of the Project
- This project led the way within the SRC Environmental Remediation Unit to develop a management system approach to ensure quality, safety and environmental protection as well as create consistent processes for community engagement, procurement, contract management and records management;
- This methodology is being followed, and improved upon, for the other uranium legacy sites remediation being managed by SRC in northern Saskatchewan.
- Stakeholder satisfaction was a key objective in the Lorado project.
- The entire process for stakeholder management was built on developing and maintaining trust and strong relationships. For example, when the project team held Elder/Youth workshops for re-vegetation efforts planned at the sites, an Elder told them “no one else ever does things like this with us”.
- SRC actively requests community feedback on many aspects of the project. This feedback is regularly used and implemented.
- Instead of planning an engagement process and mapping it into a yearly community engagement schedule, the project team determined objectives and left the rest of the plan open and flexible to take advantage of opportunities that arose. This meant a lot of extra work and planning on much shorter time frames. However, the benefits of reaching communities in ways that work better for those communities gave the team more chances to be heard in the best possible forums.
- This innovative approach to engagement requires commitment to doing the right thing and a willingness to do the extra work.
- A key to SRC’s success with stakeholder engagement was starting engagement activities early in the project process by assessing treaty and Aboriginal rights and traditional uses to specifically determine what level of consultation is required by SRC for the project.
- SRC did not have a procurement process that incorporated sustainability. The project team needed to develop an approach that worked for SRC and for the people who live in the Athabasca Basin region. This also allowed the team to be innovative, though it took a lot of thought and work to define and create this approach.
- The strategy the team developed was based on what they heard was important from communities, and they continually asked for feedback and suggestions. This feedback framed the bonus and penalty targets incorporated into the contract for the prime contractor, which provided incentive for a more sustainable project.
- It is very rare that external desires, aspirations, comments or suggestions drive an internal process like procurement.
- Procurement for the Lorado Uranium Mill Remediation project in Northern Saskatchewan was unique.
- Unlike many public sector procurement processes, it involved a deep and meaningful focus on the evaluation of sustainability aspects, including environmental, social and economic. The project team knew that in order to deliver this multi-million-dollar project successfully, a paradigm shift would be required.
- New and innovative thinking was essential to design a procurement process that would result in the granting of social license to work within the Athabasca Basin region.
- Embracing lessons learned from previous projects, the project team began thorough procurement and contracting planning well in advance, and carefully thought through how they would determine the best value contractor based on quality, schedule, and cost, delivered in a safe and sustainable way.
- The project team planned a non-binding request for proposals (RFP) and developed clear and concise evaluation criteria and proposal submission guidelines. Rather than burying sustainability evaluation criteria under some other heading such as approach and methodology in the scoring plan; a separate sustainability aspects section was created with a significant 20% of the evaluation weighting assigned. A robust evaluation handbook was developed to document evaluation procedures, scoring guide, and proposal response expectations.
- Before the RFP was released to the market, three important feedback steps were undertaken:
- First the team engaged external legal counsel for a thorough review of the RFP and evaluation handbook, and to develop the performance contract.
- Second, the project team met with the Prince Albert Grand Council, made up of representatives from all of the communities in the Athabasca Basin region. This important workshop session was used to review the proposed remediation methods, and to seek feedback regarding sustainability aspects of the evaluation criteria. The PAGC was asked to nominate an independent evaluator to join the proposal evaluation team and represent the views of the communities within the Athabasca Basin Region.
- Finally, the team issued a draft RFP to all contractors known to be interested in the project, and posted the draft on SaskTenders, the provincial government public tendering website. Interested parties were invited to comment on whether they could submit proposals that would meet the draft RFP requirements, and to provide feedback on sustainability aspects of the evaluation criteria.
- SRC met with communities (same group as the workshop mentioned in bullet 2) to explain what happened after the workshop and after the procurement process. It was at this time the community monitor idea was presented to SRC. This idea was a way for communities to have assurance from another community member that SRC was going to deliver on the desired outcomes from the procurement process. These steps resulted in buy-in from major key stakeholders, and a smooth and objection-free procurement process.
- The project team was committed from outset, and it was clear early on that their passion for doing the right thing would not waver. The team’s desire to meet all project objectives carried through the proposal evaluation process and by all accounts, the selected contractor would undertake the work successfully. The successful proponent submitted the most sustainable solution, and was well within the project budget. To ensure that the successful proponent would live up to sustainability commitments, the contract included penalties of up to 2% and bonuses of up to 1% of the total project cost for falling short or exceeding sustainability targets such as local employment and local business content.
- SRC recognizes the impact of the site remediation work it undertook on the people and communities in the region. The remediation of contaminated sites requires careful planning and consideration of environmental, social and economic impacts. The Lorado Remediation Project is a successful case study about how to incorporate sustainability aspects into any remediation project affecting people and communities. The results of this project will guide future work of this nature at SRC and is a demonstration f transferable innovation and public sector procurement professionalism.
- Community engagement was an important part of this project, as it took place on land used by the people of the region for hunting, fishing and trapping. SRC’s contract with their client required Aboriginal and community engagement and the creation of employment and training opportunities for people of the region.
- SRC held over 140 meetings in northern Saskatchewan, often in remote locations, to consult with community members and indigenous leaders. They/we value the positive, long-term relationships they have built with Athabasca Basin region communities.
- SRC routinely uses the feedback from the engagement process to improve many aspects of the project. When community feedback is used it is communicated back to them in a public forum. SRC wants all to see their ideas and words are very valuable and help make the projects better. This is a powerful tool. This is not something you see very often.
- As part of the Lorado project, both SRC and its subcontractors provided training opportunities to help northern residents develop skills for future employment. They also worked with contractors to ensure the majority of the workforce was made up of Aboriginal people from the region and that they used local suppliers, fuel, accommodation and equipment.
- SRC has developed a world-class community and stakeholder engagement program for its projects and procurement. Their engagement experience in the Lorado project was presented at the International Atomic Energy Association conference on decommissioning and environmental remediation, where many organizations view SRC as a leader in this area and are seeking to adapt their own practices.
- Extensive stakeholder engagement has allowed SRC to continue to effectively work in the area with these communities.
- This link is to a video on the Lorado Remediation Project., which will provide an increased understanding of the project activity and success:
Cleaning Up the Lorado Uranium Mine Video
Read more about the project