BETHUNE, – A major pipeline project in Saskatchewan is to be modified after ancient bones were found at the dig site.
TransGas, the pipeline subsidiary of SaskEnergy, says the redesign will minimize any impact to newly discovered cultural lands near Bethune, northwest of Regina.
“Typically, pipelines are done using a shallow trench and that’s about six feet of a hole that is made. The pipeline is lowered in, the ground cover is put back in and on we go,” SaskEnergy spokesman Dave Burdeniuk said Thursday.
“We’re not going to do that now for the location where the remains were discovered. We’re going to back up further away and then we’re going to go deep.”
The company will use trenchless technology to bore down between depths of nine metres and 45 metres for almost a kilometre underneath the site, Burdeniuk said.
TransGas was installing a transmission pipeline to supply natural gas service to a new potash mine site when bone fragments were unearthed Oct. 15. Archeologists have determined the remains are human and estimate the bones are more than 1,000 years old.
There was no indication before work began that there was anything culturally significant along the pipeline route, said Burdeniuk.
“We knew there were a couple of sites close and those were flagged and the crews were told to avoid those.
“But we had no idea that there were these human remains, so this a way that we can get the project accomplished, but do it in such a manner that we’re not going to disturb the surface or anything that might be remaining still near the surface.”
Representatives from Carry the Kettle First Nation and elders from the Nakota Nation were at the site Wednesday for a sacred blessing ritual and to further examine it.
TransGas said it will work with Chief Barry Kennedy and elders to determine the most appropriate and sensitive way to deal with soil already disturbed. TransGas also says if First Nations leaders feel further archeological work should be done, the company will ensure that occurs.