Community Information Bulletin

CNL confirms there are no safety concerns related to low-level radioactive waste mound in Fort McMurray

Port Hope, 2016 May 13 –  There is no immediate or long-term risk to human health and safety or the environment as a result of the Fort McMurray, Alberta, wildfires that burned through the Beacon Hill landfill site. The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office (LLRWMO) oversees the safe management of the historic low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) stored at this site.

“There are no concerns regarding the physical integrity of the engineered cell and the contaminated soil that it contains”, said Harvey Seto, LLRWMO director.

The cell is part of a larger landfill site managed by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. “When the evacuation order has been lifted, CNL staff will be able to visit the cell and assess if any remediation activities, such as reseeding or fence repairs, are necessary” said Seto.

The low-level radioactive waste is comprised of low-grade uranium ore residue mixed with soil and placed in a self-contained engineered cell that is capped with a thick, low permeability soil cover and a thick layer of clean topsoil. In total, 43,500 cubic meters of contaminated soil from several small sites are safely placed in the engineered facility.  The cell has been in long-term monitoring and maintenance since 2003.

The waste is comprised of material resulting from accidental spills during the transportation of uranium and radium ore, from the 1930s until the late 1950s, by Eldorado Nuclear Ltd. The waste travelled from Eldorado’s Port Radium mine on Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories, via a system of lakes and rivers to a docking site at Waterways (now Fort McMurray), where it was shipped by rail to its refinery in Port Hope. 

-30-

Contact:

Patrick Quinn
Director, Corporate Communications
CNL, 1-866-886-2325 

Low-level radioactive waste in the Beacon Hill Sanitary LandfillThe low-level radioactive waste in the Beacon Hill Sanitary Landfill is safely placed in an engineered cell and covered with topsoil and grasses. There are no concerns about the integrity of the cell and its contents after wildfires burned through the site.