Former uranium mine properties released by regulator

15 September 2022

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has amended Cameco's waste facility operating licence for the decommissioned Beaverlodge mine and mill site in northern Saskatchewan as the company prepares for the transfer of 18 properties at the legacy site to provincial control.

A still from Cameco's Sumer 2021 video tour of the Beaverlodge site

The Beaverlodge Project site, near Uranium City, was operated from 1952 to 1982 by federal Crown corporation Eldorado Nuclear Limited, and is the first Canadian uranium mining operation to be formally decommissioned. Comprising 65 separate properties, the site has been in a monitoring state since active decommissioning was completed in 1985.

Cameco was appointed to manage Beaverlodge in 1988, although the properties remain under the ownership of the federal government.

Cameco now intends to transfer the 18 properties to Saskatchewan's Institutional Control Program (ICP). The regulator has now approved the company's application for a licence amendment to allow for the removal of those properties from licensing under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA) after a public hearing held virtually in March of this year. The amended licence remains valid until 31 May 2023.

The regulator has also exempted the Province of Saskatchewan from licensing for the 18 properties, to enable their acceptance into the ICP.

In making its decision, the CNSC considered oral and written submissions from Cameco, CNSC staff and 14 intervenors and concluded that Cameco remains qualified to carry on the activities that the amended licence will authorise. It also concluded that Cameco will continue to make adequate provision for the protection of the environment, and the health and safety of persons, and that taking into account the ICP's framework, the Beaverlodge properties transferred into the programme will remain safe.

The ICP is Saskatchewan's institutional control framework for the long-term management of decommissioned mine and mill sites on provincial Crown lands. It lays out the formal regulatory process for the long-term monitoring and maintenance of industrial sites when mining or milling activities have ended, remediation has been completed, and the sites are ready to be transferred to provincial responsibility. The regulator has previously released over 20 Beaverlodge properties - not including the 18 now announced - for transfer to the ICP.

A video tour of some of the Beaverlodge properties can be seen here.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News