Conference Proceedings Paper
APPLICATION OF CANADA'S RADIOACTIVE WASTE POLICY FRAMEWORK TO LEGACY URANIUM MINES
3rd Canadian Nuclear Waste Management Decommissioning and Environmental Restoration - 2016 Sept. 11-14
T. Calvert (Natural Resources Canada)
In 1996, the Government of Canada established a Radioactive Waste Policy Framework to ensure that radioactive waste is managed in a responsible and cost-effective manner. Under the Policy Framework, the owners of the wastes are responsible for the funding, organization, management and operation of disposal and other facilities required for their wastes.
For legacy uranium mines, many of which ceased operation more than 50 years ago, there are several factors to consider when applying the Policy Framework. In many cases, the company that operated the mine, or their successor, still exists and are addressing the wastes on their sites. However, in some cases, the site returned to the Crown when mining leases expired and the wastes are now the legal responsibility of either the provincial or federal government.
When these legacy mines operated, the environmental regulations applied to the mining industry were not very stringent. However, it is not often practical or cost-effective to remediate legacy sites to the standards applied to modern uranium mines. Most of the sites pose a very low risk, due to the low-grades of ore that were mined, their remote locations, and the fact that contamination has spread and dissipated over the last 50 years and will continue to dissipate over time.
This paper will show, through examples of legacy uranium mines that have been successfully remediated, how cost-effective remediation strategies have been applied to ensure that the environment is protected from the low risk posed by these sites.
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