Port Hope Cleanup Facts
Historic low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope consists mainly of soil mixed with small amounts of historic refinery waste, left over from uranium and radium refining operations in the town during the 1930s to 1970s (click here to view LLRW Chronology). The contaminated soil contains slightly elevated levels of natural radioactive materials. The Welcome Waste Management facility contains residues generated at the refinery from the 1940s to 1988. Low-level radioactive waste in the Port Hope area does not come from nuclear power reactors.
The Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) involves two long-term waste management projects - one in Port Hope and one in Clarington. The Port Hope Project includes the construction of a new state-of-the-art long-term waste management facility at an existing closed waste site and adjacent property south of Highway 401 and west of Baulch Road. Existing waste at the site will be excavated and placed in the new engineered above-ground mound. Other historic low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) and specified industrial waste from various sites in Port Hope will be removed and safely transported to the new facility. The facility will have the capacity to safely manage the historic waste for hundreds of years. Clean up of the LLRW sites will include restoration with clean fill and restored properties will be safe to use for any purpose. A Legal Agreement was signed and the Port Hope Area Initiative was launched in 2001.
Port Hope is a safe place to live.
The background radiation level in Port Hope is lower than the average for Ontario communities and comparable to Toronto. Everyone is exposed to radiation from natural sources like the earth, the air, the ground, and the food we eat, and man-made sources like x-rays and cell phones. Port Hope has a lower background radiation level than places like Banff, Alberta, or Denver, Colorado, where higher altitude results in increased cosmic radiation. The radiation exposure of a person engaged in normal, daily living activities in Port Hope is not measurably different than the exposure of a person living in most Southern Ontario communities.
Peer-reviewed studies have confirmed that Port Hope is a healthy community.
Over 40 health studies have been carried out over more than 50 years. Briefly, they conclude that based on environmental and epidemiological studies conducted in Port Hope and the findings of research studies conducted in other countries, that no adverse health effects have occurred, or are likely to occur, in Port Hope as a result of the operations of the nuclear industry in the community. Studies were incorporated in the Synthesis Report, published by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in June 2009, were peer-reviewed by external and independent experts and findings were compared with 40 international studies on similar populations.
The conclusions are clear: Port Hope residents are as healthy as the rest of the Canadian population.
CNSC Synthesis Health Study Overview - June 2009
Understanding Health Studies and Risk Assessments Conducted in Port Hope - Synthesis Study - April 2009
Ecological Study of Cancer Incidence in Port Hope - January 2013
Mortality and Cancer Incidence of Workers in Port Hope - March 2013
Port Hope has been closely monitored for decades.
Since the 1970s, nearly every property in Ward 1 Port Hope has been systematically monitored for radon and radioactive contamination and subject to some of the most stringent radiation safety standards in Canada.
The people of Port Hope support the cleanup.
Nine years of independent public attitude surveys have shown that residents feel well informed and support the project. These surveys show that 80 per cent of residents are confident that the project can be done safely. See Community Response for more details.
The cleanup can be done safely.
Safety is paramount for the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI). Some of Canada's top, independent scientific experts were involved in an exhaustive, five-year Environmental Assessment to ensure the project can be done safely. The protection of the public, workers and the environment is an integral part of the design and the current PHAI planning process. Low-Level Radiation: How the No-Threshold Model Keeps Canadians Safe
The project is licensed and regulated.
Each phase of the project has been, and will continue to be, subject to regulatory review and oversight by the CNSC as well as by Environment Canada, Health Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada and several provincial ministries. On Friday, October 16, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission announced the approval of a five-year licence for the Port Hope Project
Information is always available.
PHAI Information Exchange Staff is available to provide information and answer questions. For more information click on the links at the left side of this page or visit our Contacts page.