The federal government is spending almost $15 million over the next year to clean up the DEW line in the Arctic.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq made an official statement about the contract for the final work in Iqaluit Wednesday.

In January, Qikiqtaaluk Environmental Inc. announced it won the $14.7 million contract to clean up the remaining sites.

"Our job is to go in there and remove these containers," said Harry Flaherty, president of the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, which owns Qikiqtaaluk Environmental.

The company will move and dispose of hazardous material from nine sites in Nunavut and then ship the material to disposal sites in the South.

Aglukkaq said the cleanup, which is one of the biggest in Canada’s history, will be a boon for the local economy.

"The DEW line cleanup project hasn’t just helped to preserve and restore the integrity of our environment; it has also brought immense economic benefits to northerners and to our communities," she said.

Line built in 50s to warn of Soviet aircraft

The DEW line, which stands for Distant Early Warning, was built across the Arctic coastline from Alaska to Iceland in the late 1950s and was meant to detect potential attacks from the Soviet Union.

In the early 1960s, 21 of the 42 sites in Canada were decommissioned. The remaining 21 were last used in 1993.

Hazardous waste has already been cleaned up from 19 of the remaining sites, with the last two scheduled to be done next year.

Some of the hazardous materials at the sites are batteries, antifreeze agents, solvents, PCBs and heavy metals such as lead and mercury.

The Department of National Defence estimates the total cost of the cleanup to be about $575 million.

All the sites are expected to be cleaned up by 2013.