Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) announced on November 9 that it has completed the excavation and transfer of about 450,000 cubic meters of historic low-level radioactive waste (LLW) and contaminated soils away from the Lake Ontario shoreline in Southeast Clarington, Ontario. The waste resulted from radium and uranium refining operations of the former Canadian Crown corporation Eldorado Nuclear and its private sector predecessors, which operated from the 1930s to 1988.
CNL said the placement of the last truckloads of waste in the aboveground mound at the new long-term waste management facility, located about 700 meters north of the shoreline site, marks a milestone for the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI), Canada’s cleanup and long-term management response to LLW in the municipalities of Port Hope and Clarington. CNL is implementing the PHAI on behalf of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.
A goal achieved: CNL president and chief executive officer Joe McBrearty said, “The safe and successful completion of this remediation is the culmination of years of hard work and planning carried out by CNL’s Port Hope Area Initiative team and fulfills a key commitment by the government of Canada to restore these lands for the local community. This milestone represents continued progress in one of the largest and most complex environmental cleanup missions ever undertaken in Canada.”
Background: Remediation of the legacy waste management site began in 2016 and was undertaken in stages, with each section of the site undergoing testing to confirm that all contaminated material had been removed. Verified areas were then backfilled with clean soil and restored by hydro-seeding and planting vegetation. As the cleanup neared completion, internal roads and other infrastructure were removed.
Capping and closing of the engineered storage mound at the new facility is under way and expected to be completed in summer 2021, with final landscaping targeted for summer 2022. Dedicated systems are being installed within the mound and around the perimeter of the new facility to closely monitor the safety and performance of the facility for hundreds of years into the future.