Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, recently marked the completion of the Port Granby Project with members of the Clarington community. Undertaken as part of the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI), the Port Granby Project involved the safe excavation and transfer of low-level radioactive waste from an unstable site to a newly constructed waste management facility.
Over 1.3 million tonnes of waste excavated from the Lake Ontario shoreline in Southeast Clarington is now safely stored in the engineered, aboveground storage mound that was capped and closed in fall 2021. CNL is implementing the PHAI on behalf of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), a federal Crown corporation.
CNL hosted local residents, First Nations representatives, and community groups at a celebration to mark the completion of the project. Guests were given an up-close look at the restored lakefront site and the drumlin-shaped storage mound, located about 700 metres away from the lake, which blends with the local landscape.
“The completion of the Port Granby Project represents a major milestone for the community of Clarington and fulfills the Government of Canada’s commitment to safely address the long-term management of this waste,” commented the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “In order to move forward and establish a clean energy future here in Canada, we must first address the legacies of the past. That was the mission of the Port Granby project, and I want to congratulate everyone who helped bring it to a safe and successful conclusion.”
Member of Parliament for Whitby Ryan Turnbull attended the event and echoed Minister Wilkinson’s sentiments. “The Government of Canada shares the commitment to protecting the health and safety of all Canadians while protecting our environment. That is why we have invested significantly in environmental protection. This includes ensuring that all radioactive waste in Canada is managed safely for generations to come.”
Alderville First Nation Chief Dave Mowat and Anishinabek Nation Regional Deputy Grand Council Chief James Marsden offered messages on the traditional and treaty territory of the Mississauga Nation where the Port Granby work was completed. CNL is committed to recognizing Indigenous rights and interests, and engagement with local First Nations and Indigenous communities and organizations is a critical component of the Port Hope Area Initiative.
“CNL is pleased to incorporate environmental stewardship and sustainability into every decision we make as an organization, as we develop solutions that stand the test of time. These were our objectives with the Port Granby Project,” said Joe McBrearty CNL President and CEO. “This remarkable achievement was brought to fruition through strong working relationships with our federal and municipal partners, with our contractors and suppliers, with many stakeholders who have an interest in the project, and with local Indigenous communities who care so deeply about the environment,” added McBrearty.
The PHAI is one of the most complex environmental remediation projects in Canada and one of several projects being undertaken by CNL, including the design and construction of a similar facility, known as the Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF), proposed for the Chalk River Laboratories site.
“The Port Granby Project would not have been possible without the insight, feedback, and support of local communities. Our experience together will only strengthen similar projects, in Port Hope, across Canada and around the world,” said Fred Dermarkar, President and CEO of AECL.
CNL and AECL also welcomed local government representatives including Municipality of Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster and Durham Region Chair and Chief Executive Officer John Henry.
Construction of the storage mound began in 2016 and involved the installation of multi-layered base liner and cover systems to safely isolate the waste from the environment. In November 2020, CNL completed the excavation and safe transfer of historic waste from the former site on the shore of Lake Ontario. Dedicated systems within the mound and around the perimeter of the facility will allow maintenance and monitoring of the facility’s safety and performance for years into the future.