Helena — The Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Pioneer Technical Services, Inc. have received a National Recognition Award in the environmental category from the American Council of Engineering Companies 2015 Engineering Excellence Awards competition. The award is for the successful reclamation of the McLaren Abandoned Mine Site Reclamation project in Cooke City, Mont.
The competition recognizes projects that demonstrate an exceptional degree of innovation, complexity, achievement and value. Pioneer Technical Services provided engineering design and construction oversight work for the project, managed by the DEQ Abandoned Mine Lands program. The project was completed in October 2014 and included two years of investigation and design work and five years of construction work.
“Given its proximity to the park and risk for catastrophic failure, the tailings impoundment had been described as a disaster waiting to happen,” said Tom Henderson, DEQ project manager. “This award is an indication of the national significance of cleanup work. The completion of this project represents a major milestone for the area and in the restoration of abandoned mine lands across the country.”
The project successfully remediated the McLaren Abandoned Mine Site, turning a previously unusable area back to its historical landscape while cleaning up contamination in Soda Butte Creek and preserving an important fishery and the natural resources of Yellowstone National Park.
The challenges and complexity of the project were considered for this award.
“There were a lot of issues besides the technical challenges, such as transportation, wildlife, and public interaction,” said Joe McElroy, project manager for Pioneer. “DEQ’s leadership and support in dealing with these issues, and our construction partner Knife River’s planning and commitment to the project helped make it a huge success.”
Over one billion pounds of tailings were excavated from Soda Butte Creek, and approximately 100 million gallons of contaminated groundwater were treated during the project. The project was funded by a coal tax that comes from the Office of Surface Mining established to reclaim land and water resources adversely affected by past mining practices and left abandoned or inadequately restored.
“Pioneer Technical Services, Inc. is honored to be part of the team recognized by ACEC for work at the McLaren Tailings Reclamation Site,” said Brad Archibald, President/CEO. “For DEQ to have the faith in us to address the challenges at this site means a lot to us, and we are proud of what this team accomplished.”
DEQ and Pioneer will be recognized during an awards program in Washington, D.C. on April 21, 2015. The project will be part of an onstage tribute of all National Recognition award winners.