2016 May 13
AECL and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories confirm that there are no safety concerns related to the low-level radioactive waste engineered cell in Fort McMurray
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. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office oversees the safe management of the historic low-level radioactive waste stored at this site on behalf of AECL.
The cell is part of a larger landfill site managed by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. 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 originating from several small sites are safely placed in the engineered facility. The cell has been in long-term monitoring and maintenance since 2003.
When the evacuation order has been lifted, CNL staff will be able to visit and assess if any remediation activities, such as reseeding, are necessary.
The waste is the result of 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.
For more information on Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and the Low-level Radioactive Waste Management Office, please visit their website.
The low-level radioactive waste in the Beacon Hill Sanitary Landfill is safely placed in an engineered cell and covered with topsoil and grasses.