Port Hope Area of Concern
The steps being taken to remediate the Port Hope area are unique. They include long-term, multi-step processes that focus exclusively on removing sediment contaminated by low-level radioactive waste from the urban areas of the municipality of Port Hope. A portion of this area, the Port Hope Harbour, is specifically designated as an Area of Concern (AOC) due to restrictions on dredging activities to remove the contaminated sediment in the harbour.
Why was it listed as an Area of Concern?
Port Hope was designated an AOC because a review of available data indicated that water quality and environmental health were severely degraded. A legacy of contamination from the operation and waste management practices of Eldorado Mining and Refining between 1933 and 1953 led to an estimated 85,000-95,000 cubic metres of sediment containing low-level radioactive material within the turning basin and west slip of the Port Hope Harbour.
What has been accomplished?
The Port Hope Area Initiative, launched in 2001, focuses on cleaning up and managing waste from a number of sites within the municipality of Port Hope, including the harbour. Cleanup activities include the construction of a long-term, low-level radioactive waste management facility, the remediation of contaminated sites, the transfer of contaminated material to the new facility, and continued maintenance and monitoring.
The construction of a new wastewater treatment plant has been completed and is undergoing testing. The plant will treat all of the surface material and groundwater collected at the site of the long-term, low-level waste management facility during construction, and from within the facility once it is built. Throughout the environmental assessment phase, there was extensive public consultation, and public engagement continues in the form of the establishment of a Citizen Liaison Group.
What’s left to do?
Delisting the Port Hope AOC requires that the low-level radioactive waste contaminated sediment be removed from Port Hope Harbour. Through Canada’s Port Hope Area Initiative, work began in early 2016 on the construction of the long-term, low-level radioactive waste management facility to receive these sediments as well as historic, low-level radioactive waste from other locations in the Town of Port Hope. The facility will be an engineered above-ground mound, designed to isolate the waste. Cell 1, the first of four cells in the engineered aboveground mound, will be completed in 2017 and be ready to receive radioactive wastes in 2018. Canada’s Port Hope Area Initiative is planning to remove the sediments and restore the harbour by about 2019.
Under the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health, Canada will continue to make significant progress towards remedial action implementation, environmental recovery and restoration of beneficial uses in the Port Hope AOC. It is anticipated that actions will be completed beyond 2020.
Where can you find more information?
Efforts in Port Hope are undertaken in a partnership between the Government of Canada, other levels of government and non-government groups, including members of the public.
Undertaking environmental restoration requires a large amount of scientific and technical expertise, local knowledge and hard work. One agency or group cannot engage in such a large task on their own without the help of others.
Listed below are participants that have contributed to efforts in Port Hope:
- Natural Resources Canada
- Environment and Climate Change Canada
- Atomic Energy of Canada Limited
- Municipality of Port Hope
- Municipality of Clarington
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