Uranium giant Cameco is asking for permission to take more than 1.5 million liters of water daily out of the ground under its plants in Port Hope, Ontario. The Permit is a key component of Cameco’s effort to stop the spread of contaminated groundwater underneath its uranium facility on the Port Hope Harbour.
Cameco has two operations on the Port Hope Harbour: a uranium hexafluoride plant and a uranium dioxide plant. Both were shut down for extended periods of time over the last two years because of contaminated soil and water underneath the buildings. That groundwater is discharging into one of Lake Ontario’s most historic and environmentally vulnerable harbours.
In comments submitted June 29, 2009, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper made these recommendations:
Cameco must guarantee zero direct emissions to surface water and commit to ongoing testing to confirm that taking the water is not also harming the environment
Cameco must ensure that continuously releasing a plume of steam does not cause uranium already in the air to rain down on Port Hope residents
Cameco must properly dispose of collected contaminants
Cameco’s Permit should be temporary, contingent on addressing the source of contamination
Cameco’s Permit should be reviewed at the commencement of Vision 2010 program, and not outlast the federal facility license that expires February 29, 2012.
The groundwater beneath the facilities is laced with toxic chemicals including uranium, arsenic, fluoride, nitrate, and ammonia. This Permit represents an opportunity for Cameco to begin the important process of restoring the area around Port Hope to a healthy, livable, and environmentally sound condition.
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