Moving toward a cleaner Port Hope, one property owner at a time

Port Hope, ON. (October 15, 2018)

“Just do it. It’s simple and easy, so just do it!”

That’s the advice two Port Hope residents and small business owners have for the 400 property owners who have yet to participate in the radiological survey of their properties being conducted as part of the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI). Avril Ewing was reluctant to give consent for the survey work at first. “I thought the testing was unnecessary. But once I understood more about it, I thought it’s to everyone’s benefit, so let’s just get it done!” Ewing said.  

The PHAI and the Property Radiological Survey are being undertaken by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). The survey results determine if a property has historic low-level radioactive waste. Once survey work is completed for all properties in a neighbourhood, CNL issues a Compliance Letter to owners of properties that do not have waste. Properties with waste will be cleaned up through the PHAI, after which the owners will be issued Compliance Letters.

Ewing points out that it’s important for owners like her, who feel sure that their property doesn’t have waste, to have the testing done so that they can receive a Compliance Letter. “I didn’t want not having a Compliance Letter to potentially affect my property value in the future. Even if I don’t sell, I want to leave my family with the all-clear if they inherit the property,” she said.

The survey began in 2012 with a mandate to test all properties in the urban area of Port Hope and a few in the rural area – 4,800 properties in all – for the presence of waste. Six years later, owners of more than 4,400 properties have given consent for testing on their property. As the tests must be completed before properties with waste can be scheduled for a PHAI cleanup, CNL continues efforts to gain consent from the owners of the remaining 400 properties. But with the cleanup of properties now underway and 18 to 24 months required to complete the testing through different seasons, time is running out.

When Ewing found out that one of the tests required access to all the rooms in her home, she called CNL for reassurance that survey technicians are subject to strict security screening and all are bonded. “I’m a private person, and my home is my safe space – I’m careful who I let in,” she said.

It was equally important to Ewing that the survey work not interfere with her home-based business. “I was able to book appointments around my schedule because I couldn’t sit there all day waiting. The technicians were polite, professional and patient. The work was quiet – I barely noticed that they were there. The tests didn’t disturb me or impede my work at all,” she said.

George headshot croppedPort Hope resident George Kallonakis, the co-owner of popular local restaurant Olympus Burger, had a similar experience. “CNL contractors were fine with scheduling the work outside of the restaurant’s operating hours so neither my business nor my customers were inconvenienced by the testing,” he said.

As a member of the Centre of Excellence Working Group, Kallonakis said he’d like to see Port Hope voted the “cleanest and greenest community in Canada” one day. If all property owners agree to take part in the testing, the community will be one step closer to making this a reality, he believes.

“Once Port Hope is cleaned up, I feel we’ll see even more families – and more businesses – moving here,” he said.

Kallonakis and Ewing both believe that some people don’t understand that if they don’t have the testing done now, they won’t have the same opportunity to have all the work done at no cost to them once the PHAI is finished. “This is a federally funded project, so why not take advantage of it?” Kallonakis said.

Property owners can sign up today to participate in the survey today by completing a consent form on PHAI.ca, picking up a form at CNL’s Project Information Exchange at 115 Toronto Road, Port Hope, or by calling 905.885.0291 to request a form.