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Cleanup of Low-Level Radioactive Waste in Southeastern Ontario

Backgrounder

Low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) was produced by the former federal Crown corporation Eldorado Nuclear Limited at its Port Hope refinery beginning in the 1930s, and stored in the municipalities of Port Hope and Hope Township (now amalgamated as Port Hope and Hope), and Clarington.

The volume of LLRW and marginally contaminated soils in the area is just over one million cubic metres. The majority of this waste is currently located at two waste management sites: the Welcome site (former Hope Township) and the Port Granby site (Clarington), with the remaining waste at various locations in the former town of Port Hope. Although the waste is being managed safely in its current locations, the present situation is not considered appropriate for the long term by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), the Government of Canada or the communities themselves.

The legal agreement between the Government of Canada and the municipalities commits the Government to financing a 10-year, multi-phase project to implement a locally developed solution, or an alternative, for the safe cleanup, storage and long-term management of the waste.

In each of the municipalities, the Project involves the cleanup of existing low-level radioactive wastes at unlicensed sites throughout the municipalities and, in the Town of Port Hope and Hope (formerly the Town of Port Hope and Hope Township), certain non-radioactive industrial wastes.

Subject to the results of regulatory processes, these wastes will be consolidated and managed for the long-term in the following:

- two new long-term low-level radioactive waste management facilities in the Town of Port Hope and Hope, one at the Pine Street North Extension and the other at the current Welcome Waste Management Facility; and

- a re-engineered long-term low-level radioactive waste management facility at the Port Granby Waste Management Facility in Clarington.

The new facilities will be engineered to last for at least 500 years.

The waste management facilities are estimated to cost $230 million. This estimate includes costs associated with further engineering and scientific studies, regulatory review including environmental assessment and CNSC licensing, site cleanups, remediation, waste transportation, facility construction, waste emplacement, facility closure and ongoing monitoring.

Signature of the legal agreement initiates a five-year environmental assessment and regulatory review phase in which the Project will be better defined through public consultation, technical and scientific study, environmental assessment, and regulatory review, including review under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office will carry out the project on behalf of the Government of Canada.

Under the terms of the legal agreement, grants of $10 million are to be paid to each of the three municipalities that signed the agreement to assist them in addressing impacts associated with the presence of long-term waste management facilities within their communities. In addition, a program of property value protection will be established to protect property owners from financial losses relating to the project on the sale of their property.


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For more information, members of the media may contact:

Peter Brown
Director, Uranium and Radioactive Division
Natural Resources Canada
(613) 996-2395

Bob Zelmer
Director, Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office
(613) 998-0066



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