Port Hope residents release nuclear report

PORT HOPE, ONTARIO - The residents of Port Hope are demanding that the federal government investigate data that suggests the small town is awash in nuclear contamination.

A report funded by concerned residents found a small sample of former workers at nuclear facilities and average citizens had elevated levels of uranium.

Some of the workers tested positive decades after what was believed to be their original exposure.

Faye More of the residents' group said today that the community deserves a full study by Health Canada, more disclosure about contamination by Natural Resources Canada and better testing by Environment Canada.

Port Hope is the site of the largest cleanup of radioactive soil in North American history.

It is currently home to the Cameco uranium refinery, which processes uranium hexafluoride for U.S. nuclear reactors.

Residents says they've been exposed to radioactivity for about 70 years, which is longer than almost anyone in the world.

They fear increased rates of cancer and other ailments.

Residents say they had to take matters into their own hands and commission the study because the federal government refused to do its own.

Port Hope was classified as an area of low-level historic waste as it was contaminated at a time when radiation was not seen as a severe threat to human and animal health.

Uranium refinery operations are believed to be responsible for contaminating some 3.5 million cubic meters of soil which now lies under homes, schools, farm fields and the local harbour.

Toxic elements that have been found in the area include above-average levels of the radioactive metals radium and uranium, as well as arsenic, radon and lead.

But Glenn Case of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office, which is handling the cleanup for Natural Resources Canada, said earlier studies found no need to conduct human testing.

Citing a 1994 study that looked at the potential for ground and surface water contamination and the likelihood of exposure to humans, Case said the study found there were no "short-term health risks" and that radiation levels were well within acceptable standards.

He refused to comment on the community group's medical study until he's had a chance to review it.


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