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Protectors say Cameco harming Lake Ontario

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Protectors say Cameco harming Lake Ontario

Waterkeepers ask for Ministry of Environment to investigate effluent discharge into lake



Thu Sep 04, 2008

Jeanne Beneteau / www.northumberlandnews.com



PORT HOPE - Lake Ontario Waterkeeper (LOW) has joined forces with a group of concerned Port Hope Ward 2 residents to determine whether Cameco Corporation is in violation of provincial environmental law.


On Aug. 25, the two groups jointly submitted an application for investigation to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, alleging Cameco may be breaking provincial environmental laws through the discharge of wastewater into Lake Ontario from its Welcome Waste Management Facility (WWMF). The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) must decide whether or not to investigate the allegation by early-November.


The allegations stem from an Aug. 11 statement by Ward 2 residents who insist Cameco must be forced to stop dumping treated water still contaminated with uranium and arsenic from the WWMF into Lake Ontario. Group spokesman Sandford Haskill said water is pouring out of a broken pipe leading from the WWMF onto a public beach where Brand Creek empties into the lake.


Mr. Haskill said he reported the break to Cameco and the MOE and asked the agencies to investigate the discharge. In addition, water tests on the discharge paid for by the Ward 2 residents indicate the water is contaminated with uranium and arsenic well above both the Interim Provincial Water Quality Objectives and the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines, "but within the limits allowable by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Committee (CNSC)," stated Mr. Haskill.


However, Cameco spokesman Doug Prendergast said the outflow pipe in question is discharging the treated effluent from the WWMF into Lake Ontario exactly as the system was designed to do. Mr. Prendergast added the WWMF is fully compliant with all CNSC licensing limits in place for the facility.


"But should the Ontario Ministry of the Environment decide to investigate the matter, we (Cameco) will fully cooperate," he said.


LOW, led by president and environmental lawyer Mark Mattson, stated the provincial Environmental Bill of Rights grants every Ontario resident a right to call upon the province to investigate violations of provincial law.


"In my experience, dumping uranium, arsenic and radium onto a public beach is about as clear a violation as you can get," said Mr. Mattson.


Water samples collected from the pipe show uranium levels nearly 50 times higher the province's interim water quality objectives and arsenic levels nearly five times higher than what Ontario considers safe for human and aquatic life, he explained.


LOW is a grassroots, charitable group that draws local, regional and national attention to clean water initiatives for Lake Ontario and the Great Lakes Basin. Waterkeepers patrol local water bodies, address community concerns, identify threats to clean water and make use of the legal and democratic processes designed to protect water quality.

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