The waste at the Port Granby site originated from the former Eldorado Nuclear Limited refinery in Port Hope and was deposited at the site between 1955 and 1988. The facility was closed in 1988, when maintenance and monitoring became the responsibility of Cameco Corporation, under a licence from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC.) The site is 17.5 hectares and is situated along 400 metres of receding shoreline, 30-metre high eroding bluffs and porous sandy soils. Although Cameco made many environmental improvements to the site, the instability of the terrain makes it unsuitable for long-term waste storage. Approximately 450,000 cubic metres of low-level radioactive waste and contaminated soil are located in the East Gorge, West Gorge and the Central Plateau as pictured below.
Detailed and comprehensive studies to select the best option for the long-term management of the historic low-level radioactive waste in southeast Clarington began in 2002 with the launch of the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Port Granby Project.
On the table was a concept proposed in 1998 by the Municipality of Clarington and a council-appointed citizen committee. The concept called for on-site management of the waste. This concept and two others were evaluated in the initial stages of the EA process.
After six years of detailed environmental and technical studies and extensive public consultation, the municipal council of Clarington and the Government of Canada endorsed the decision to relocate the waste to a new long-term waste management facility to be built away from Lake Ontario about a kilometre north of the current site.
In fall 2011, the CNSC granted a licence for the Port Granby Project to proceed. The licence decision also enabled the Government of Canada to assume responsibility for the existing site and ownership of 275 hectares (680 acres) from Cameco Corporation, of which 95 hectares (235 acres) is required for the new waste management facility. This was followed, in January 2012, by the Government of Canada’s commitment of $1.28 billion for the PHAI, which included funding of $273 million over 10 years for the Port Granby Project.