Community Information Bulletin

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

Port Hope, 2016 August 19 – There was no long-term risk to human health and safety or the environment as a result of the Fort McMurray, Alberta, wildfires and subsequent flooding, which occurred in the area of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Landfill in Fort McMurray. The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office (LLRWMO) oversees the safe management of the historic low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) in a containment cell located within the larger landfill site.

“There have been no concerns regarding the physical integrity of the engineered cell and the contaminated soil that it contains,” said Harvey Seto, LLRWMO director. “The physical integrity of the engineered cell was not affected by the fire or flood. Grass that was burned on the surface of the cell this past spring has since regenerated, and inspections of the containment cell following both the fire and flood confirmed its continued safety.”

The low-level radioactive waste consists of low-grade uranium ore residue mixed with soil, which is enclosed 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 the result of 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 a refinery in Port Hope.

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Contact:

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