Developing criteria to direct the cleanup of contaminated sites has been fundamental to the Port Hope Area Initiative. Cleanup criteria establish the levels to which each radioactive and non-radioactive contaminant found in soil, harbour sediments, water and groundwater contaminated with historic low-level radioactive waste will be cleaned up. Criteria also apply to radon levels in houses. Cleanup criteria are important because they address the question, “When is a property clean?”
The criteria were developed through a co-operative effort involving the PHAI, scientific specialists, federal and provincial government agencies, peer reviewers, the municipalities and members of the public. Principles to guide the clean-up process were built on the statement in the Legal Agreement that:
“Canada shall clean up properties contaminated with historic low-level radioactive waste so that all such properties will be able to be used for all current and foreseeable unrestricted uses.”
Contaminants associated with low-level radioactive waste are mainly radium-226, thorium-230, uranium and arsenic. Cleanup (excavation) will meet or go beyond the criteria to ensure the long-term safety of the public and the environment.