Restoring Contaminated Sites

Lee Barbour's research at the University of Saskatchewan helps oil sands producers with reclaiming former mine sites–a process that involves depositing new soil and encouraging nature to grow there again


His work focuses on how water moves through the soil and across the newly reclaimed landscape. This helps companies predict how contaminants beneath the reclaimed land could potentially leach into surrounding ponds, lakes and wetlands. This “no surprises” approach ensures companies are able to deal with any contaminant loadings coming out of the site. Because oil sands mines are much larger than other resource developments, often covering thousands of square kilometres, this special understanding of water movement is essential and will be freely shared within industry. He holds a five-year NSERC Industrial Research Chair.

For the period 2011-16: NSERC contribution, $1.3 million; industry partners and others, $2.2 million.