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Northern Transportation Route

The Northern Transportation Route (NTR) initiative is a federal environmental remediation project to cleanup legacy ore spillage sites in the Northwest Territories and northern Alberta.
Northern Transportation Route

These sites contain small quantities of uranium impacted soils resulting from past handling of uranium ore at certain points along the Northern Transportation Route, a 2,000 kilometer route made up of waterways and portages between Port Radium, Northwest Territories and Fort McMurray, Alberta.

The spilt uranium ore contains low-level radiation and does not pose a risk to people or the environment in its current form; however, it will be collected, removed and remediated in order to enable future land use for other purposes.

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is implementing the Northern Transportation Route initiative on behalf of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, a federal Crown corporation.


In the 1930s, Eldorado Gold Mines Limited established a mine in Port Radium, Northwest Territories and a refining facility in Port Hope, Ontario.

The uranium ore was shipped to southern Ontario, but first had to travel along the Northern Transportation Route before being loaded onto rail cars in Fort McMurray to be sent to Port Hope for refining.

Between the 1930s and the 1960s, some spillage occurred at the transfer points along the route as the ore was being transferred to the refinery. The discovery of this spilt uranium ore in the north came in the early 1990s. In response, formal investigations through a number of studies and site characterization were conducted.

The Northern Transportation Route sites containing higher radiation levels were cleaned up over two decades in the 1990s to 2010. The remaining areas of low-level uranium-ore spillage will also be collected and transported south to appropriate licensed long-term storage facilities in Alberta.

CNL is engaging local stakeholders and Indigenous communities and organizations to develop appropriate cleanup plans and seek input on the project for the next two phases. CNL will oversee the remediation and restoration of the remaining impacted areas along the historic Northern Transportation Route, ensuring these sites meet criteria for future unrestricted land use.

The project is being undertaken in three phases, approaching the remediation by geographic region. All cleanup and restoration of the lands is forecasted to be completed in 2029.

Click here to download the NTR brochure.

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Contact us

For further information about the Northern Transportation Route initiative please contact CNL’s Historic Waste Program Management Office:
Tel: 866-513-2325 ext. 41180