As part of the continued evolution of the PHAI Public Information Program, there are new opportunities available for stakeholders to provide feedback to Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) about the PHAI. Through focus groups, observer groups and neighbourhood meetings, residents directly impacted by work in a particular area can offer their observations, ask questions and discuss any specific concerns directly with CNL staff.
One recent example occurred this past fall, when a group of local residents were invited to take a firsthand look at how the cleanup of the Peter Street Mound progressed. The group witnessed the measures being used to ensure worker and public safety as well as protection of the environment during the cleanup of historic low-level radioactive waste. The waste is part of an old railway warehouse located near the Metro grocery store. When the warehouse was demolished in 1985, approximately 450 cubic metres of contaminated soil and building debris were mixed with sand and left in place within the original warehouse foundation.
During the observation activity, residents had the opportunity to ask questions about the safety measures and protocols in place for the PHAI, including CNL’s emergency response plans and controls in place to prevent the spread of contaminated material. As part of the information exchange between CNL and the residents, participants were reminded that the PHAI is a community-driven initiative that was requested by the Municipality of Port Hope and Clarington, and is based on the legal agreement signed in 2001.
Overall, the feedback was positive about the safety practices in place as part of PHAI activities and the willingness of CNL to share information and answer questions. There was also great feedback on improving signage at work sites.
In addition, a public focus group was held last spring for CNL and local residents to discuss potential impacts that might result from PHAI work in Port Hope’s waterfront area over multiple construction seasons. The focus group provided insights and suggestions to help inform CNL’s communication strategies. In particular, the views of this group was useful in helping CNL’s communications team identify key stakeholders. The group continues to provide feedback on the best way to provide information on this area of work.
These opportunities help CNL refine communications approaches and ensure that Port Hope residents, business owners and visitors remain well informed about the day-to-day impact of project activities.