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Port Hope radioactive waste clean-up to begin

Last week the Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, announced that the government would commit $1.28 billion over 10 years for the long-awaited project to clean up low-level radioactive waste in the two towns of Port...


Last week the Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, announced that the government would commit $1.28 billion over 10 years for the long-awaited project to clean up low-level radioactive waste in the two towns of Port Hope and Port Granby on Lake Ontario.

AECOM is the consulting engineer for the design and construction management of the waste management facilities at the Port Granby site, while MMM Group and Conestoga-Rovers of Toronto are the consultants for the same role at the Port Hope site.

The radioactive waste has a long history, resulting from the refining of radium and uranium by Eldorado Nuclear Limited between the 1930s until 1988. Eldorado became a crown corporation in the 1940s. Originally the plants refined radium ore that was shipped to the Ontario refineries from Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories by barge and rail. Then in the 1950s the refinery changed to refining uranium. At that point some of the buildings were demolished, and their materials were disposed of locally.

Today in Port Hope approximately 1.2 million cubic metres of the radioactive waste and contaminated soils are located at various sites. The material contains radium-226, uranium, arsenic and other contaminants. In Port Granby, approximately 20 kilometres along the lakeshore to the west, approximately 450,000 cubic metres of low-level radioactive waste is located in gorges and trenches at the lakefront.

The clean-up plans involve encapsulating the waste above ground in new long-term waste management facilities. Each site will have a wastewater treatment plant, as well as other supporting infrastructure.

Known as the Port Hope Area Initiative, the project is being undertaken by Natural Resources Canada, Atomic Energy of Canada and Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Now that the funding is in place, PWGSC is preparing to put the construction project out to tender.