The Federal government has pledged funding to be used for radioactive waste cleanup in Port Hope Ontario.
Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver made the announcement in Port Hope on yesterday (Friday) morning.
This is great news because experts predicted for a long time that the cost of the cleanup, which was earlier estimated at about $260 million, would grow higher and it did, the total cost of the cleanup will now be about $1.28 billion dollars.
Cleanup of low-level radioactive waste scattered through the community means digging out more than 1.2 million cubic metres of soil. That process will take at least a decade. .
The waste was the result of five decades of radium and uranium refining at Cameco refinery, the former Crown corporation Eldorado Nuclear Ltd.
Contaminated soil used as fill was discovered as a health hazard in the late 1970s, but it’s been since then that people in that community could seen a long-term solution in the near future.
The waste will eventually be dug up from numerous hot spots around the city, taken to a new storage facility north of Port Hope, where it will be sealed up and monitored.
The long-term storage facility will be built at the existing old waste site and adjacent property which is just south of the 401. That facility has the capacity to manage more than a million cubic metres of contaminated soil.
The facility will isolate the waste within thick, multiple layers of a double-base line and cover system.
Port Hope Mayor Linda Thompson said that yesterday’s funding announcement confirms the federal government’s ongoing commitment to the Port Hope Area Initiative.
In April 2009, The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission released a comprehensive report entitled “Understanding Health Studies Conducted in the Port Hope Community from the 1950s to the Present”.
The report was a collaboration of over 40 health studies carried out over more than 50 years. Briefly, it concluded, based on environmental and epidemiological studies conducted in Port Hope and the findings of research studies conducted in other countries, that no adverse health effects have occurred, or are likely to occur, in Port Hope as a result of the operations of the nuclear industry in the community.
A section of the city’s website explains and anwsers the publics frequently asked questions and says that everyone is exposed to natural radiation from the air, ground and even the food we eat.
It also says that Port Hope has a lower background radiation level than places like Banff, Alberta, or Denver, Colorado, where higher altitude results in increased cosmic radiation.
“The radiation exposure of a person engaged in normal, daily living activities in Port Hope is not measurably different than the exposure of a person living in most Southern Ontario communities,” according to a section on the Port Hope website.