Funds for legacy waste facility

04 March 2010

The government of Canada has awarded C$20 million ($19.4 million) for the design and construction oversight for a long-term facility to manage historic low-level radioactive waste at Port Hope in Ontario.

The contract, awarded to a joint venture of MMM Group Limited/Conestoga-Rovers and Associates Limited of Thornhill, Ontario, comes under the auspices of the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI), a federally-sponsored project which aims to remediate wastes from earliest days of the nuclear age.

Announcing the contract on behalf of Government Services Canada and Natural Resources Canada, member of parliament Rick Norlock described it as an important step forward. "Our goal is the cleanup and safe long-term management of historic low-level radioactive waste in the Port Hope area," he said.

The contract covers detailed design of the long-term waste management facility as well as the design of supporting infrastructure and planning the remediation of numerous other sites throughout the Port Hope municipality. Also included is the provision of building oversight during the construction phase. Design work is to begin immediately, with construction expected to start in 2011.

Numerous sites in the Port Hope municipality require remediation for wastes from the processing of radium, and later uranium, from 1933 to 1988. The PHAI was set up to address the remediation of the 17 major and 400 small-scale sites, plus remediation and closure of an existing waste storage site in Port Hope, as well as the remediation and closure of a storage site in the nearby municipality of Port Granby. In all, this will entail the excavation of about 1.2 million cubic meters of waste from the various locations in Port Hope and some 500,000 cubic meters of historic waste from the closed-down Port Granby waste management facility. A new long-term waste management facility will be constructed in each of the municipalities to house the consolidated waste.

The three-phase PHAI is now moving from the first, completed, phase of environmental assessments and licensing, into the second, implementation, phase. This phase will see the remediation of the contaminated sites and the construction of the new above-surface engineered waste management facilities. The third phase will be the long-term maintenance and monitoring of the facilities.

The PHAI is supported by the federal Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office (LLRWMO), itself managed by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL).

Port Hope's lengthy association with Canada's nuclear industry continues through Cameco's uranium conversion plant, which converts uranium oxide to uranium hexafluoride ready for enrichment overseas as well as producing unenriched uranium dioxide for use in nuclear fuel.
 
Researched and written

by World Nuclear News
 

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