CNL completes removal of Canadian legacy waste

10 November 2020

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has completed the excavation and transfer of historic low-level radioactive waste away from the Lake Ontario shoreline to a new long-term waste management facility. The waste removal marks a milestone for the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) which CNL is implementing through its Historic Waste Program Management Office on behalf of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).

The site on the Lake Ontario shoreline has now been restored (Image: PHAI)

The Port Granby Project involves the relocation of some 1.3 million tonnes of historic low-level radioactive waste from the legacy storage site on the shoreline of Lake Ontario in Southeast Clarington, to a new, engineered aboveground mound. Remediation of the legacy site began in 2016.

CNL President and CEO Joe McBrearty said completion of the remediation fulfilled a key commitment by the government of Canada to restore the land for the local community. "This milestone represents continued progress in one of the largest and most complex environmental clean-up missions ever undertaken in Canada," he said.

The waste is from over 50 years of radium and uranium refining operations of the former Crown corporation Eldorado Nuclear and its private sector predecessors, which operated from the 1930s to the 1980s. Remediation has been carried out in stages, with each section of the site undergoing a stringent testing process to confirm that all contaminated material had been removed. Verified areas were then backfilled with clean soil and restored by hydroseeding and planting vegetation.

The new management facility is an engineered storage mound about 700 metres north of the shoreline site. Work to cap and close the mound is expected to be completed in summer 2021, with final landscaping targeted for summer 2022. Dedicated systems installed within the mound and around the perimeter of the new facility will monitor the safety and performance of the facility for hundreds of years into the future, CNL said.

Richard Sexton, president and CEO of AECL, thanked the residents of Port Granby for their support and patience during decades of community consultation followed by the remediation and restoration work.

The PHAI represents the federal government's commitment to the cleanup and local, long-term, safe management of historic low-level radioactive waste in the municipalities of Port Hope and Clarington. The initiative was established in 2001.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News