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(last updated 20 Dec 2022)
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Relocation of legacy radioactive waste of former Eldorado Nuclear Port Hope refinery from Lake Ontario shoreline completed:
On Nov. 9, 2020, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) announced that it has completed the excavation and transfer of historic low-level radioactive waste away from the Lake Ontario shoreline in Southeast Clarington.
The Port Granby Project involves the relocation of approximately 1.3 million tonnes of historic low-level radioactive waste from the legacy storage site on the shoreline of Lake Ontario in Southeast Clarington, to a new, engineered aboveground mound. The historic waste resulted from radium and uranium refining operations of the former Crown corporation Eldorado Nuclear and its private sector predecessors, which operated from the 1930s to 1988.
Capping and closing of the engineered storage mound at the new facility is underway and expected to be completed in summer 2021, with final landscaping targeted for summer 2022. Ongoing maintenance and monitoring will continue for hundreds of years after the facility is capped and closed.
Relaxed cleanup criteria proposed for remediation of contaminated properties in Port Hope:
A proposal is in the works to change the Port Hope Area Initiative's (PHAI) cleanup criteria.
And if it goes through, project leaders say this may help address some community concerns, including the length of time it takes to clean up properties, impacts to properties, as well as unintended environmental concerns which have been raised and realized as remediation work continues in recent years.
CNL [Canadian Nuclear Laboratories] has applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) proposing changes to cleanup criteria for arsenic and uranium. (Northumberland News Sep. 19, 2020)
[The cleanup criteria for residential sites are to be increased from 18 to 100 ppm for arsenic, and from 23 to 35 ppm for uranium.]
> View: Proposed Change to PHAI Cleanup Criteria (Port Hope Area Initiative - PHAI)
Property remediation resumes at Canada's Port Hope Project:
The Port Hope Project in April resumed remediation of radioactively contaminated properties in the municipality in Ontario, Canada.
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories' Port Hope Area Initiative is testing all private properties for low-level radioactive waste, left by uranium and radium refining during the 20th century. To date, roughly 1,000 sites are known to require remediation. The testing process is nearly finished, project spokesman Bill Daily said by email Wednesday (May 29).
So far, the project has cleaned up 10 properties.
"Work on residential properties resumed in April of this year, with exterior cleanups on 30 properties currently underway," Daly wrote. "The work on these properties includes removal of structures such as decks and natural features like shrubs and trees, followed by excavation of front and back yards to remove the historic low-level radioactive waste. Once the waste has been removed, the property is restored and any structures are rebuilt at no cost to the home owner."
Exterior remediation of an additional 50 to 70 locations is anticipated in 2019, focusing on removal of soil contaminated by wastes including radium-226, uranium, thorium, and arsenic. The amount of work necessary will differ based on location, according to Daly. Some properties will need extensive soil excavation and restoration, while others have only small impacted areas in which waste can be removed via hydro-vacuuming. (ExchangeMonitor May 30, 2019)
Overflows of untreated water after heavy rain at Port Hope Long-Term Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Project:
The CNSC was informed by the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) Management Office that after a heavy downpour in the Cobourg and Port Hope areas on June 22 and 23, there were overflows of untreated water from the water collection pond at the Port Hope Project Long-Term Waste Management Facility and from the catch basin at the Port Granby Waste Management Facility. These overflows resulted in environmental releases into Lake Ontario.
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (the licensee) has the situation under control, and the overflow has stopped. Water testing is currently underway. Preliminary results from the licensee's testing confirm that there is no risk to the public or workers. (CNSC June 26, 2017)
CNSC authorizes Phase II of Port Hope Long-Term Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Project:
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will hold a one-day public hearing (October 24, 2012) to consider Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's (AECL) application to remove the hold points and to amend the expiry date of Waste Nuclear Substance Licence, for the Port Hope Long-Term Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Project. This is pursuant to the expectations set out in the Commission's decision dated October 16, 2009 requesting that AECL come back before the Commission before the start of Phase 2 of the Project.
AECL is requesting that the Commission lift the hold points to allow the Port Hope Project to proceed into Phase 2 - the construction and remediation phase of the Project. Furthermore, AECL is requesting that the Commission amend the licence period so that it remains in effect until December 31, 2022 to allow AECL to complete the construction of the long-term waste management facility and the remediation of sites within the Municipality of Port Hope.
Written submissions must be filed by September 24, 2012.
> Download Notice of Public Hearing, Aug. 17, 2012 (PDF)
> Download Hearing transcript Oct. 24, 2012 (PDF)
On Nov. 15, 2012, CNSC announced its decision to authorize the release of the hold point, allowing Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) to begin Phase II of the Port Hope Long-Term Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Project, and to extend the licence expiry date to December 31, 2022.
> View CNSC release Nov. 15, 2012
> Download Summary Record of Proceedings and Decision (PDF)
Port Hope radioactive cleanup gets CDN$ 1.28 billion federal funding:
Ottawa has pledged a whopping $1.28 billion to the biggest radioactive waste cleanup in Canadian history.
Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver made the announcement in Port Hope on Friday (Jan. 13) morning.
Experts had long predicted the cost of the cleanup, earlier pegged at about $260 million, would balloon. Cleanup of low-level radioactive waste scattered through the picturesque town east of Toronto entails digging out more than 1.2 million cubic metres of soil "enough for 500 Olympic-size pools" and will take a decade.
The waste was the result of 50 years of radium and uranium refining at Cameco refinery, the former Crown corporation Eldorado Nuclear Ltd., from the 1930s to the 1980s. Contaminated soil used as fill was identified as a health hazard in the late '70s, but it has taken decades to find a long-term solution.
The waste will be dug up from numerous hot spots and taken to a new storage facility north of town, where it will be sealed up and monitored. The long-term storage facility will be built at the existing old waste site and adjacent property just south of Highway 401; it has the capacity to manage more than 1.9 million cubic metres of contaminated soil. The mound - something like a gigantic bathtub with an air-tight cover - will isolate the waste within thick, multiple layers of a double-base liner and cover system. (Toronto Star Jan. 13, 2012)
The contract for the detailed design of a long-term management facility to contain historic low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope, Ontario, was awarded to the joint venture of MMM Group Limited/Conestoga-Rovers and Associates Limited of Thornhill, Ontario. (Public Works and Government Services Canada Mar. 1, 2010)
Following a one day public hearing (Aug. 26, 2009), the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced on Oct. 16, 2009, its decision to issue to Atomic Energy Canada Limited (AECL) a Waste Nuclear Substance Licence for the Long-Term Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management (LTWM) Project in Port Hope, Ontario.
> Download CNSC Notice of Hearing, June 16, 2009 (PDF)
> Download Hearing Transcript Aug. 26, 2009 (PDF)
> View CNSC release Oct. 16, 2009
> Download Record of Proceedings, including Reasons for Decision
A planned cleanup of low-level radioactive waste near the shores of Lake Ontario remains years behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget.
The federal government committed in 2001 to remove more than 2 million cubic metres of uranium-and radium-contaminated soil from beneath neighbourhood houses, roads, schoolyards, farm fields and the bottom of the local harbour.
However, documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Freedom of Information Act cast doubt on how soon the project will be completed, and at what cost.
The National Resources Canada report says "a high degree of public scrutiny and public participation" has been the key factor in delaying the planning-based phase of the project by three years and driving up costs by about $5 to $7 million.
The second phase of the operation will see the contaminated soil excavated and moved to a different location before being contained in thick layers of clay, rock and soil. In 1999, the cost of the second phase was estimated at $170 million - a price tag that's expected to soar as a result of changes in the "amount of low-level waste, the number of facilities, their location and design," as well as political stresses, the report says. Toxic elements currently found in the area include above-average levels of the radioactive metals radium and uranium, as well as arsenic, radon and lead. (CP Aug. 19, 2007)
The Port Hope proposal covers the
remediation of sites containing low-level radioactive
wastes, marginally contaminated soils and specified
industrial wastes. The sites to be remediated include
four sites already under CNSC licence with the Low Level Radioactive Waste Management Office . As well, it includes the Port Hope harbour,
historic wastes from CAMECO and miscellaneous public and
private sites for a total waste to be managed of
approximately 1.39 million cubic meters.
The proposed project also covers the preparation and construction of a long-term low-level radioactive waste management facility to be located at the site of the existing Welcome waste management facility, and it also includes the management of the waste within that facility.
> Download Notice of Hearing (Dec. 27, 2006) (PDF)
> Download Panel Hearing Transcript Jan. 24, 2007 (PDF)
> View Port Hope Long-Term Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Project (NRCAN)
> View The Port Hope Project (LLRWMO)
> View Environmental Assessment - Port Hope Long-Term Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Project (CNSC)
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