Port Hope Harbour Area of Concern
In 1987 the Government of Canada listed Port Hope Harbour as an Area of Concern, following the recommendation by the International Joint Commission that the harbour become one of 43 Areas of Concern on the Great Lakes due to a restriction of dredging activities.
Eldorado Nuclear Limited, a former Crown corporation, produced radioactive wastes at its Port Hope refinery beginning in the 1930s, which were discharged into the harbour and several land sites within the nearby vicinity. An estimated 85 000 - 90 000 cubic metres of sediment containing low-level radioactive material is located within the harbour, including uranium and thorium series radio nuclides, heavy metals, and PCBs that halted the maintenance dredging in this area.
It was determined that without dredging, continued sedimentation would render the turning basin inoperative as a boat mooring facility as it is currently used. Removal of the contaminated sediment and low-level radioactive waste was not possible because a specially designed waste management and storage facility was not available.
For over twenty years, efforts to find a site to construct such a facility were unsuccessful. In 1997, a proposal to house the waste management and storage facility was submitted to the Government of Canada by Hope Township.
This proposal eventually led to the signing of a legal agreement for the clean-up and long-term management of local historic low-level radioactive waste, including radioactive wastes found within Port Hope Harbour, in March 2001. Signatories to the agreement were Government of Canada, represented by Natural Resources Canada, and the three communities of the Town of Port Hope, the Township of Hope and the Municipality of Clarington. Since then, the Town of Port Hope and the Township of Hope have been amalgamated into one community, the Municipality of Port Hope.
The legal agreement is based on community-developed concepts for the local, long-term management of low-level radioactive waste in the Port Hope Area. With the signing of the legal agreement, the Government of Canada began a 10-year, $260-million initiative, the Port Hope Area Initiative, to develop and implement a long-term solution. The Port Hope Area Initiative is being led by the Low Level Radioactive Waste Management Office of Natural Resources Canada.
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