Norman Wells Straw Bales and Reflective Surface Test
Principal Investigator: Graburn, Larry (26)
Licence Number: 13927
Organization: ColtKBR
Licenced Year(s): 2006 2005
Issued: Dec 16, 2005
Project Team: Field Operations Manager (Implementation of the test, ColtKBR), Field Superintendent (supervising field activities, ColtKBR), Environmental Inspector (ensure environmental requirements are met, ColtKBR), Research Supervisor (test set-up and data collection, ColtKBR), Safety Advisor (ensure safety procedures are followed, ColtKBR)

Project Description: The objective of this project is to test the thermal properties of straw bales and reflective surfaces for use on permafrost slopes along a potential pipeline route in the Mackenzie Valley. These materials might be used in conjunction with or as alternatives to wood chips to protect the exposed slopes from surface erosion and reduce the rate of thawing. In mid-February 2006 a bulldozer and brush cutter will be used to clear the selected site (an area of 30 m x 60 m). A front end loader will be used to clear the snow from the site to expose the ground surface. An auger drill rig will be brought in to drill three 150 mm diameter holes to a depth of 10 m. Small diameter (25 mm) sealed PVC standpipes will be installed in each borehole to permit the installation of thermistor cables to measure ground temperature. When the test materials arrive on the site, two test sections will be set up (each 20 m x 20 m). On one test section, traditional small (27 kg) straw bales of flax will be placed tightly together by hand and held in place by sand bags and steel or wooden pins driven into the soil. On the other test section, a white geotextile reflective material will be placed. Each test section will be positioned over one of the thermistor cable installations. A third thermistor cable will be used to monitor ground temperatures remote from the test sections, to provide control information. A space of approximately 10 m will be left between the straw and reflective material sections.Temperature data from the thermistor cables will be collected automatically using electronic, battery-operated data loggers or by hand, once a month. No attempt will be made to influence other environmental impacts (decomposition of the materials etc.) unless considered necessary for the quality of the data and test. Data collection is proposed to last through to the summer of 2009.

Local residents and businesses will be informed about and have an opportunity to be involved in the test implementation through on-going consultation, rendering of local business and translation services, the research team’s weekly environmental reports to the regulatory authorities; and a non-technical summary report of the project to community organizations.
The study will be conducted from January 3- December 31, 2006 on Commissioner’s Land in Norman Wells.