H.Peter White, Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Natural Resources Canada.
Sites contaminated with radioactive waste, mine tailings, or other material can have severe impacts on both ecosystem integrity and human health. In this regard, remediation is aimed at diminishing the interaction between the concerned site and the impacted environment. The economic impact of these sites is also of high relevance. While policies and regulations exist to manage this particular issue; every site has unique characteristics and thus requires distinctive treatment towards remediation.
Overall site management (characterization, evaluation, risk assessment, remediation, monitoring) aims to protect human health and ecosystem condition. This is, however, a complex and expensive issue, especially in remote or difficult to reach areas. There presently exists well established traditional techniques for addressing the issue (sampling in the field, lab analysis, data collection), however, these are often limited due to cost, location and extend. Remote sensing provides an opportunity to enhance and complement these analyses. It provides regional perspective to a local source influence, as well as providing a robust and quantitative approach for key issues to site managers and enforcement agents. It allows the potential for a long term economic contribution to both monitoring and mitigation issues. Like any other tool, hyperspectral remote sensing should not be used in isolation, remote sensing provides a quantitative approach to remotely monitoring and economically managing when and where risk intervention should be investigated.
Environmental monitoring of remediation management activities researched through the hyperspectral program at the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing includes the evaluation of imaging spectrometer data (hyperspectral imagery) for characterising environmentally contaminated sites and providing techniques to monitor their remediation. Examples of such sites include mine tailing sites and related waste disposal sites, and the remediation and rehabilitation of these sites.
In one example study area, hyperspectral imagery from a casi (Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager) in the visible and near infrared was used to characterise sulphide mine tailings at the Copper Cliff tailing impoundment area in Sudbury. Other example study sites have detected and mapped the distribution of tailings from uranium mining in Canada to monitor the distribution of this potential radioactive contamination in support of site remediation.
Environmental monitoring of remediation management activities researched at the hyperspectral program at the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing includes the evaluation of the use of imaging spectrometer data (hyperspectral imagery) for characterising environmentally contaminated sites and providing techniques to monitor their remediation. Examples of such sites include mine tailing sites and related waste disposal sites, and the remediation and rehabilitation of these sites.
In one research project advanced with collaborators INCO and the City of Greater Sudbury, hyperspectral imagery from a casi (Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager), and Hyperion (aboard EO-1) in the visible and near infrared was used to characterise sulphide mine tailings at the Copper Cliff tailing impoundment area in Sudbury. This site was chosen primarily to monitor the results of re-vegetation efforts performed in the impacted region. Image data sets of the study sites were processed and analyzed using the CCRS ISDAS (Imaging Spectrometer Data Analysis System). Results displayed here indicate that these techniques can be employed successfully to map such sites and to monitor the results of rehabilitation efforts.
More recently, a CCRS representative involved in Imaging Spectrometry Science has been invited to consult with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to produce a guidance document on the use of remote sensing technologies in the assessment of remediation works of radioactive waste contaminated sites. This guidance document once developed will be released to all member states (including Canada) to assist remediation management and reporting of progress.
Richter, N.; Staenz, K.; Kaufmann, H. Spectral unmixing of airborne hyperspectral data for baseline mapping of mine tailings areas. International Journal of Remote Sensing 29 (13) 2008
Shang, J.; Neville, R.; Staenz, K.; Sun, L.; Morris, B.; Howarth, P. Comparison of fully constrained and weakly constrained unmixing through mine-tailing composition mapping. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing 34(1) 2008
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