Families from Elliot Lake take nuclear regulator to court over refusal to order clean up of radioactive mine waste rock
July 26, 2023
Toronto – The Canadian Environmental Law Association and Blaise Law have served the federal government with an application for judicial review of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) recent decision that denies a group of families’ request for clean up of radioactive uranium mine waste rock found beneath their homes in Elliot Lake, Ontario.
The families are seeking an order from the court, declaring a recent CNSC’s decision unlawful and unreasonable. The applicants are arguing ‘the CNSC is not relieved of its regulatory authority for oversight of uranium mine waste rock’ and has continuously failed, without explanation, to ‘address or acknowledge expert evidence’ filed by the applicants, that shows they have been exposed to radiation up to 15 times allowable public dose limits.
The decision from the court will be key in ensuring Canada’s nuclear regulator upholds its statutory duty to protect human health and the environment from nuclear substances – including in instances of legacy waste and where nuclear substances have been moved off of licensed, uranium mine sites.
The families continue to encourage members of the public, who wish to support their call for a clean up, to write to the CNSC.
- Earlier this summer, the families requested the CNSC issue orders to test the properties and mandate mining company BHP to remove the mine waste and place it as a CNSC-licensed site. On June 20, 2023, the CNSC denied the request, alleging uranium mine waste rock, created from the mining process, is outside of its oversight authority. The families are now seeking a judicial review of this decision.
- The uranium mine waste rock found at the families’ homes, located primarily in the driveways and buried by the foundations, is the result of construction practices in the 1960s, where mine waste rock from now-closed uranium mine wastes was used in the town as fill.
- Uranium mine waste rock decays to radium, radon and radon progeny, and can cause serious health risks, especially if radon gases accumulate indoors.
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For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Kerrie Blaise, Legal Counsel
Jacqueline Wilson, Legal Counsel
416-960-2284 ext. 7213