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November 21, 2019

PHAI Cleanup Choice for Property Owners

As plans for the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) cleanup in Port Hope become reality for property owners, a number of people have strongly indicated that they would like to restrict the cleanup of historic low-level radioactive waste to specific areas of their property.

In particular, residents are asking for an option that will allow them to preserve specific features such as trees, gardens and structures. This differs from the “all or nothing” approach to the cleanup that was envisioned by the community during the planning stage. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has shared this feedback from residents with the Municipality of Port Hope and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), the signatories of the Legal Agreement governing the PHAI, as well as the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), the regulatory agency overseeing the PHAI.

As the PHAI is a community-requested project, CNL is committed to responding to the changing feelings of the community. We are holding a PHAI Information Session on November 21, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Port Hope Lions Centre, offering opportunities for residents to express their opinions and ask questions about this option for property owners to have more choice about the extent of a PHAI cleanup on their property.

The choices being discussed for property owners are:

  • Remove all historic low-level radioactive waste on the property as currently planned
  • Remove waste from some areas and not others
  • No cleanup at all

It is important to note that CNL will continue to plan for and offer all property owners a full cleanup of all historic low-level radioactive waste on their properties. For those property owners who are considering the choice of a partial cleanup, CNL will discuss the implications of that choice with them so that they can make an informed decision.

CNL began the cleanup of private properties in 2018. While there have been some successes, there have also been many challenges, primarily with schedule delays, which we know has been frustrating to residents.

As part of the cleanup, CNL’s contractors must follow a soil-sampling process to verify that the property meets the PHAI Clean-up Criteria. This process was designed to be very specific to PHAI work. However, it is much less efficient in practice than was anticipated during planning, and can significantly extend the time it takes to complete a cleanup. CNL has engaged an independent third party to review the process and suggest changes to streamline it while ensuring it aligns with international standards, which will benefit property owners and the community. More information about the outcome of the review will be shared with our key stakeholders, including the Municipality of Port Hope and property owners, after it is complete.

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