01/13/2012 05:15 EST | Updated 03/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Port Hope Nuclear Waste:10-Year Cleanup Of Radioactive Material To Cost $1.28 Billion


PORT HOPE, Ont. - Ottawa says it will spend $1.28 billion over 10 years to clean up low-level radioactive waste in the Port Hope area east of Toronto.

The waste came from radium and uranium refining operations of the former Crown corporation Eldorado Nuclear and its private sector predecessors from 1933 to 1988.

The federal government says about 1.7 million cubic metres of the waste is located at sites in Port Hope and Clarington, about 100 kilometres east of Toronto.

The initiative will be carried out as two projects — one for Port Hope and the other for the Clarington site known as Port Granby.

Each will involve building new long-term waste management facilities, cleanup and restoration of contaminated sites, and monitoring and maintaining of the facilities.

Area MP Rick Norlock says hundreds of jobs will be created, including those in engineering, construction, trucking and support services.

"We will continue to work closely with the communities to resolve the waste issue and create new opportunities for development and economic growth in this region," Joe Oliver, natural resources minister, said in announcing the plan Friday.

Port Hope found itself in the spotlight about 1 1/2 years ago when an anti-nuclear activist said radioactive waste there was leaking into Lake Ontario.

Dr. Helen Caldicott warned the waste had contaminated beaches and water in the town of 16,000, adding it could eventually cause epidemics of cancer and genetic problems.

Her comments drew the ire of the town's mayor and many others in the community.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which is licensing the two cleanup projects, has said there is no health risk and the town's cancer rates are no higher or lower than other areas.