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Programs & Projects - Historic LLRW

Northern Transportation Route (NTR)

Background

In the early 1990s, the LLRWMO identified a number of uranium ore-contaminated sites along the Northern Transportation Route (NTR), a 2,200-km marine and portage route used in the past to transport uranium ore and concentrates from the Northwest Territories (NT) to the railway in northern Alberta. 

The NTR extends from the Port Radium Mine site on Great Bear Lake, via a system of lakes and rivers (including Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes, and the Great Bear, Mackenzie, Slave and Athabasca Rivers) south to Fort McMurray, Alberta.

In subsequent years the LLRWMO has completed radiation surveys at potential transfer points along the NTR, removed and consolidated contaminated soil at temporary storage sites along the route, from residential properties in Fort Smith and Tulita, NT and from nine different remediated sites in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The contaminated material was then placed in engineered storage mounds where annual inspections are conducted by the LLRWMO as necessary to ensure a safe environment for local residents.

The LLRWMO continues to have an active interest in the remaining NTR sites to ensure that the contaminated soils do not impact the public or the environment.

Recent Activities

Tulita

The LLRWMO achieved a major milestone in FY 2008-09 with the transfer of bagged uranium-ore contaminated soil from a temporary interim storage stockpile in Tulita, NT to a disposal site in the U.S.. The successful conclusion of the Tulita Disposal Project fulfills a long-standing commitment by the Government of Canada to remove historic LLRW from this community.

History at Tulita begins, between 1993 and 2001, when pockets of uranium ore contaminated soils found in Tulita were consolidated at a temporary storage location in the area of the old landfill site near the community's airport.

In 2006, the LLRWMO packaged uranium impacted soil into 755 bulk bags in anticipation of the transfer of the contaminated material to an acceptable location for the long term.

In 2008, between September and November, 755 bulk bags containing an estimated 867 cubic metres of uranium-impacted soil was removed from Tulita and transported by road and barge to a marine terminal in Hay River, NT. From there, it was transported by rail to a licensed hazardous and radioactive waste treatment and disposal facility in Idaho. The final shipment of the waste was received at the U.S. facility in January 2009.

Other NTR Sites 

The annual monitoring of LLRWMO-managed sites along the NTR continues with monitoring and inspection of the Fort Smith Landfill cell, the Fort Fitzgerald area and the Fort McMurray waste storage facility ensuring that these inventories have no impact on the public and the surrounding environment.

The LLRWMO is currently participating with NRCan in discussions with local communities on the final remediation of the Sawmill Bay (NT) site (a former Distant Early Warning [DEW] Line site) and the Fort Fitzgerald (AB) community. Both areas are impacted as a result of the transportation of uranium ores to refinery operations in Port Hope (ON) between the 1930s and the 1960s.

 

 


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