Port Hope Harbour: Area of Concern

Port Hope Harbour was designated an Area of Concern (AOC) in 1987 under the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Industrial activity from Eldorado Mining and Refining between 1933 and 1953 contaminated an estimated 85,000-95,000 cubic meters of sediment with low-level radioactive material within the turning basin and west slip of Port Hope Harbour. As a result, one out of 14 beneficial use impairments (BUIs) was identified, which measure the environmental, human health or economic impact of poor water quality. 

Work continues on restoring the one BUI:

  • restrictions on dredging activities – the remediation of the Port Hope Harbour Area of Concern is part of the Port Hope Area Initiative launched in 2001, which focuses on the clean-up and managing of waste from the harbour and a number of sites within Port Hope and neighbouring Clarington 

Remaining actions

We will continue to work with local and provincial partners to support restoration actions and the environmental monitoring and assessment studies needed to confirm environmental quality objectives are met.

Cleanup activities include the construction of two long-term, low-level radioactive waste management facilities, the remediation of contaminated sites, the transfer of contaminated material to the new facilities, and continued monitoring.

The contaminated sediment in the inner harbour will be managed by dredging and disposal.  Preparatory work for dredging the contaminated sediment began in 2018 with the isolation of the harbour and removal of large debris from the harbour bottom. Due to COVID delays, dredging and safe disposal of the contaminated sediment will be completed by the end of 2022. 

Outlook

Under the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health, we will work with the province of Ontario to continue to make significant progress towards remediation, environmental recovery and restoration of the beneficial use in the Port Hope AOC. 

Our partners

We partner with other levels of government, non-government groups, Indigenous communities and members of the public. This restoration work requires a large amount of scientific and technical expertise, local knowledge, hard work and the help of:

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