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February 25, 2022

Proposed changes to PHAI Cleanup Criteria – UPDATE

As part of ongoing dialogue with regulators, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) will revise its application to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to amend the Cleanup Criteria for the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI). This change will remove the reference to the uranium criterion (which will remain at 23 parts per million (ppm)) and propose an increase in the level for arsenic from 18 ppm to 56 ppm.

This revised level of 56 ppm is based on the risk guideline calculated by Health Canada’s human health and ecological risk assessment model. This change also allows regulators to focus on the evaluation of a change to the arsenic level that, as the only parameter mobile in soil, has the most impact on the extent of a cleanup.

In March 2020, CNL submitted an application to the CNSC to amend the PHAI Cleanup Criteria based on information gathered and experience gained from the first two years of cleanup work on residential properties. The application used an approach of applying risk-based information and weight of evidence to propose alternative cleanup criteria levels for both arsenic and uranium. CNL identified that the original, conservative criteria levels of 18 ppm for arsenic and 23 ppm for uranium resulted in unintended negative effects on the community and natural environment. Many residents have expressed dissatisfaction with the length of time it has taken to clean up their properties caused, in part, by the need to “chase” arsenic to meet the very low criteria level. The broader community has raised concerns about the unintended impact of the project on the natural environment, including a significant loss of trees in urban Port Hope.

CNL believes the revised number of 56 ppm for arsenic will still assist in the reduction of cleanup times on properties in Port Hope and potentially exempt a number of properties from the PHAI cleanup, while still being protective of human health and the environment.

The original application was supported by an extensive awareness and engagement campaign to inform and solicit feedback from the public as well as Indigenous communities and organizations.

Once the CNSC has indicated the timing of a Commission hearing to consider CNL’s application, CNL will share CNSC information on how to participate in the licensing process.

CNL will continue to provide meaningful opportunities for Port Hope residents, key stakeholders and Indigenous communities and organizations to learn more and provide feedback on the proposed revision to the PHAI Cleanup Criteria.  In keeping with public health precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, participation may be online or by phone.

Click here to learn more and submit feedback.

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