News Release - February 4, 2004
SASKATCHEWAN MAKES RECOMMENDATIONS ON FORMER URANIUM MINE SITES
In an 'Update Report' to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), the Province of Saskatchewan is continuing to press for the federal government to accept its responsibilities for cleaning up former uranium mine sites in northern Saskatchewan.
The comprehensive report makes recommendations on next steps for ensuring continued environmental protection and public safety at two of the most prominent former uranium mine sites - Lorado and Gunnar, as well as continued progress toward their remediation. The CNSC, as specified under The Nuclear Safety and Control Act, has regulatory responsibility for nuclear facilities in Canada.
"Saskatchewan is committed to participating cost-effectively in decommissioning former uranium mine sites in northern Saskatchewan," Northern Affairs Minister Buckley Belanger said. "What is needed immediately is for the federal government to accept its historical, moral, and current responsibilities, and to commit funding for the proposed work. We are encouraged by the federal government's specific commitment to address such contaminated sites, as stated in the recent Speech from the Throne."
The Lorado uranium mine/mill site, about 8 km south of Uranium City, ceased operation in 1960. Provincial government public records indicate the owner of the former Lorado site is EnCana West Ltd. and not the Government of Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan research also confirms a former federal Crown corporation – Eldorado Mining & Refining Ltd. – contributed, as well, to the tailings at Lorado. Saskatchewan's report recommends that the CNSC consider pursuing discussions with EnCana West Ltd. and the federal government concerning remediation plans for the Lorado site.
Saskatchewan continues to press for a federal commitment to participate in the remediation of the former Gunnar mine/mill site, about 25 km southwest of Uranium City, in the Athabasca region. The estimated cost to clean up the Gunnar site, and some 40 other smaller former satellite uranium mine sites in the area, is about $23 to $24 million over eight years.
"We believe northerners can assume a partnership role in the decommissioning, planning and delivery process that would include training and employment opportunities, and result in a new company that could, in time, service similar remediation needs across Canada and beyond," Belanger said.
The report states the province will continue its due diligence investigation of the Gunnar site and will sit down with the CNSC as soon as those results are available, to determine appropriate next steps for that site.
"Saskatchewan will continue to monitor the sites," Environment Minister David Forbes said. "We are committed to continuing to assess and to address environmental risks and any threats to public safety associated with these sites."
For More Information, Contact: