Contaminated site cleanup experience and planned projects

19.4.1 Low-level, historical waste projects

A variety of sites contaminated with historical low-level radioactive waste materials have been identified across Canada. The diversity of wastes, wasteforms and sites include: pitchblende ore handling facilities used during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s along a 2,200 km transportation route between the Port Radium mine in the Northwest Territories and Fort McMurray in
northern Alberta; uranium and radium processing residues currently located in Port Hope area waste sites established during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s; discarded luminescent dials and apparatus found at sites across Canada; and former radium dial painting and waste management operations located in the Toronto area.

As described in Section 19.2.5, the Government of Canada established the LLRWMO in 1982 to characterize and delineate these historical low — level waste sites across Canada, and undertake decontamination, waste consolidation and interim waste storage as required at these sites. The types of remedial work conducted by the LLRWMO at these historical waste sites include: excavation and transportation of radioactively contaminated soil in quantities ranging from a few m3 to thousands of m3; collection/consolida — tion of contaminated debris and radioactive artifacts; decontamination of residential and industrial structures primarily associated with historical radium dial painting operations; and the development of community-based interim waste management solutions pending the development of a longer — term solution. This work routinely involves liaison with the local communi­ties and regulatory agencies to develop acceptable waste management solutions for the short and long term (Benitez et al., 2011; Gardiner et al, 2011).

Most of the remaining historical waste to be dealt with in Canada is located along the northern transportation route. The waste has resulted from the past transport of radium and uranium-bearing ore and concen­trates from the Port Radium mine to the barge-to-rail transfer point at Fort McMurray. The sites that still have to be remediated include Sawmill Bay, Bennett Landing, Bell Rock and Fort Fitzgerald. Strategies are currently being developed for the cleanup of these remaining sites. They are esti­mated to consist of about 10,000 m3 of contaminated soils.

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