The Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI)
The Port Hope Area Inititative is a community-recommended solution to a long-term environmental problem. The Port Hope area communities are seizing the opportunity to resolve environmental concerns about low-level radioactive waste. Understanding what low-level radioactive waste is, how the Port Hope situation came about and what long-term solutions are proposed should help answer many of your questions. Port Hope Area Initiative Questions and Answers - (pdf).
On April 20, 2010, a Port Hope Area Initiative Project Update (pdf) was presented to Council.
What is Low-Level Radioactive Waste?
Historic low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope consists mainly of soils contaminated by radioactive and chemical wastes produced from radium and uranium refining. The wastes include natural elements contained in the original ore and some of the chemicals used in the refining processes. These wastes contain the naturally occurring radionuclides uranium and radium along with other elements such as arsenic.
Radon gas is also associated with the LLRW. It results from the natural radioactive decay of radium. If the radon gas enters an enclosed space such as the basement of a house, radon gas can accumulate and result in concentrations that may exceed acceptable regulatory standards. The levels of radon gas inside a building depend on the building's construction and the concentration of radium in the surrounding soils.
The historic waste in the Municipality of Port Hope originated from radium and uranium refining operations of the former Federal Crown Corporation, Eldorado Nuclear Limited, from the 1930s to the 1970s. (click here to view LLRW Chronology)
From 1975 to 1982, the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB), now the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), on behalf of the Federal-Provincial Task Force on Radioactivity, carried out a cleanup of developed residential, public and commercial properties. Since then the LLRWMO has conducted further investigations, cleanups and consolidations.
The Federal Government and the municipalities of Port Hope, Hope Township and Clarington developed community based proposed solutions for the cleanup and long-term safe management of the low-level radioactive waste. A Legal Agreement was signed and the Port Hope Area Initiative was launched in 2001. The Initiative has two projects (the Port Hope Long-Term Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Project and the Port Granby Long-Term Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Project), each with its own federal Environmental Assessment and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission licensing process. The Property Value Protection Program is a key component of the Projects.
After four years of community input and environmental studies, the 16-volume draft Port Hope Project Environmental Assessment Study Report (EASR) was reviewed by Port Hope's Municipal Peer Review Team and submitted to the federal Responsible Authorities (Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Fisheries and Oceans Canada). The EASR (revised with comments from federal agencies) was used by the Responsible Authorities as the basis of the draft Screening Report containing the government's findings and conclusions about the environmental effects of the Project. The Draft Screening Report was available for public review in mid-2006 and was finalized in December 2006. A decision to proceed was taken by the Responsible Authorities in March 2007. The Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) staff are working hard on engineering details, construction and operating procedures required by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission licence for the Port Hope Project.
Low-Level Radiation: How the No-Threshold Model Keeps Canadians Safe
For more information on LLRW and the Port Hope Project visit our Frequently Asked Questions section
For further information about the Port Hope Area Initiative, please contact the Project Information Exchange:
115 Toronto Road
Port Hope, ON L1A 3S4
Phone: (905) 885-0291
Toll-free from Canada: 1-866-255-2755