Beginning in April 2018, and continuing through the summer, the first loads of an estimated 1.2 million cubic metres of historic low-level radioactive waste will be removed from three locations in Port Hope, Ontario, and transported to an engineered above-ground mound being constructed at a long-term waste management facility built near Hwy. 401.
The $1.28-billion cleanup involves radium 226, uranium and arsenic that resulted from the radium and uranium refining operations of former Crown Corporation Eldorado Nuclear in Port Hope. The initiative will be carried out as two projects — one for Port Hope and the other for the Clarington site known as Port Granby. Waste was deposited in various sites in the area beginning in 1955 until the facility was closed in 1988.
The Eldorado Mining and Refining Limited plan was to send ore 4,000 miles from its mine at Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories to its refinery rather than ship chemicals to the site. Port Hope was the ideal location due to its easy access to the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes System. But in 1943, the Canadian government took control of Eldorado in an attempt to satisfy the growing demand for uranium, particularly for the Manhattan Project in the U.S. during the Second World War.
“This is the beginning of the final chapter in addressing this long-standing environmental issue in Port Hope,” said Bryan Tyers, Director of Project Delivery for the Port Hope Area initiative (PHAI), in a statement about the Port Hope cleanup getting underway.
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According to an April announcement from PHAI, remediation at a number of residential properties will begin later in the spring. Prior to the start of waste removal, fencing will be installed to restrict access to work areas. The removal of waste from the Centre Pier will enable the PHAI to use the pier as the staging area during the remediation of the Port Hope Harbour, which will begin later this year. An estimated 800 properties may be affected, according to project leaders.
For a complete chronology of the Port Hope contamination and the work of the PHAI, please click here.
Environmental Science & Engineering Magazine featured an article on radiation protection for the Port Hope and Clarington cleanup in its February 2018 edition.