There are still several approvals to be obtained so Mr. Oliver is now predicting reopening in the third quarter of 2008.
"It'll be a number of months before we restart the plant even though we can now begin rehabilitation," said Mr. Oliver.
He added that Cameco has managed to avoid lay-offs since the plant was closed due to subsurface contamination in July 2007, but he won't say with 100 per cent certainty that lay-offs won't happen, but insisted they would continue to find alternate work for the employees formerly working at the UF6 plant.
"It's less likely there will be lay-offs," he said.
Some rehabilitation has already begun including the removal of 4,000 drums of contaminated soil, 1,000 drums of concrete and 850 slabs of concrete. Plans are in the works to ship this material to the United States for "secure" disposal, but the soil is currently being stored on site, Andy Thorne, General Manager, Cameco Port Hope said.
"It's not too many months away to transport that soil off-site," he said.
They only removed the top two feet of soil, taking away 40 per cent of the contamination, he said. To remove more would jeopardize the structural integrity of the building.
"It's difficult to excavate below the footings of the building," said Kirk Vetor, Manager, Technical Services.
"I can assure you our employees are very pleased we've reached this milestone," said Mr. Thorne.