Nuclear Contamination in Canada

Historic waste consists of soil contaminated with uranium and radium, at sites located in the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

This waste was originally managed in a way that is no longer considered acceptable, but for which the current owner cannot be reasonably held responsible.

The government of Canada has accepted responsibility for the long-term management of this waste, which is currently managed by the Low-level Radioactive Waste Management Office (LLRWMO), run by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Ltd.

Radioactive waste has been produced in Canada since the early 1930s, when the first radium and uranium mine began operating at Port Radium, Northwest Territories.

Pitchblende ore was transported from the Northwest Territories through the Northern Transportation Route to Port Hope, Ontario.

The ore was refined to produce radium for medical purposes. Later on, the uranium was destined for nuclear fuel and military applications.


The bulk of Canada’s historic waste is located in the Ontario communities of Port Hope and Clarington Ontario Canada.

This waste and contaminated soils amount to roughly 2 million cubic metres, and relate to the historic operations of a radium and uranium refinery in the municipality of Port Hope, dating back to the 1930s.

While the low-level radioactivity of naturally occurring radioactive materials do not pose a risk to human health and the environment, there is general consensus in the local community, as well as in professional and regulatory communities, that the management of the waste onsite does not represent a suitable long-term solution.

Historic low-level radioactive waste is present within the Ontario municipalities of Port Hope and Clarington. The waste, which is no longer produced, resulted from radium and uranium refining by a former federal Crown corporation (Eldorado Nuclear) and its private-sector predecessors from the 1930s to 1980s.

CNL’s Low Level Radioactive Waste Management Office (LLRWMO) currently supports the PHAI MO through its interim waste management program, and will continue to do so until waste management activities are completed. The LLRWMO currently operates the Pine Street Extension Temporary Storage Site, which is a low-level radioactive waste management facility licensed to receive historic radioactive waste from construction activities within the municipality. The waste at this site will eventually be transferred into the new Long-Term Waste Management Facility that is being constructed for the Port Hope Project.

From the early 1930s to the 1950s, uranium ore was transported over 2,200 km by the Northern Transportation Route (NTR) from Port Radium (on Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories) to the railhead at Waterways (now Fort McMurray, Alberta).

In the 1990s, AECL’s Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office (LLRWMO) identified sites impacted by uranium ore along the NTR. The contamination was located primarily in docks and boat launches.

Radiological surveys conducted in 2004, 2005 and 2006 determined the volume of the waste to be approximately 10,000 cubic metres. Following these surveys the LLRWMO removed and consolidated most of the higher-density, uranium-impacted soil from the identified locations.

CNL’s LLRWMO is in charge of continuing to address the historic nuclear waste in Canada’s north.

Sealed containers of nuclear fuel waste await long-term disposal at Ontario Power Generation’s Western.

The $24-billion cost of a deep repository—to be paid by the producers (hence ultimately their customers) out of a fund that now stands at less than $3 billion—sounds like a lot for the existing quantity of nuclear-fuel waste in the country. NWMO spokesman Mike Krizanc visualizes Canada’s 48,000-tonne waste pile as “enough to cover six NHL-sized hockey rinks to the top of the boards.”

In 2002, Ottawa passed the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, which obliged key Canadian atomic energy producers, such as Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation, to create the Nuclear Waste Management Organization and develop a permanent waste disposal strategy.

The NWMO, founded that same year, takes pains to equate itself with openness, honesty and the public interest—ideals assertively declared on its website. But it is at heart an industry body, not a public one: Eight of the nine members of its board come straight from nuclear production companies.



Houses and Cats in Russian Tradition

For centuries Russians consider letting a cat into a new house before the humans move in as a sign of good luck.

They guarded Hermitage Museum and had their own servants and even after the October revolution they were looked after.

Few years ago the largest bank in Russia, Sberbank, was giving free cats to mortgage customers for good luck in their new homes.

According to Russian superstition, letting a cat walk through your new home before you move in brings good luck. “Order a cat for your housewarming, and bring happiness and luck to your home,” the state-controlled bank says on a special Cat Delivery Service website it set up to promote the campaign. Customers can choose among 10 breeds, including tabbies, Siamese, and an exotic hairless cat resembling a sphinx.

Russia’s largest bank is apparently loaning cats to clients who buy one of their mortgage products – as a sign of good luck.

In what has all the marks of a publicity stunt, Sberbank – one of Russia’s largest banks – says every new mortgage customer can choose the cat they want, and it will be delivered in time for their housewarming party.  The bank’s gives a choice of 10 breeds, and features a video showing the first happy clients receiving their cats. It’s an advertising campaign thought up by a local agency, and reportedly features delivery vans with cat logos cruising the streets of Moscow.

The bad news for customers is that they won’t be able to keep their feline. Terms of the offer say that the animal is only given so that it is the first to cross the threshold of the property – many Russians say a cat is sign of good luck to those moving into a new home – and is only available for two hours so the home-owners can take photos.

The cats are owned by individuals, including Sberbank employees, “who agreed to let their pets participate in special projects,” Anastasia Vakhlamova, a bank spokeswoman, told Bloomberg Businessweek. The bank started receiving requests for loaner cats “immediately after the launch of the special project” in mid-August 2014.

Cats were always a part of  life, because back in a day people of Russia mostly lived in villages, and every house had a cat simply as anti-mouse remedy.

The only real “cat tradition” is letting it into a new house before the humans move in, and there are about 4 versions of how that tradition came to us.

The most common belief is that cat is a spiritual animal, and it can feel good and bad energy, so, for example, the spot in a new house where cat decided to lie down for the first time needs to be a spot for a bed, and places the cat didn’t like should be avoided.

And a black cat crossing person’s pass is still considered a sign of bad luck in Russia as well as many other countries.

Coricancea City of Gold Peru

Built in the shadows of the Andes, Cusco’s golden temple was the centerpiece of an empire that revolutionized city planning in South America

Coricancha – the temple of the sun – which they built as the crown jewel of their capital city of Cusco, and the centerpiece of an empire that revolutionized city planning in South America.

When Pachacútec assumed the Incan throne in 1438, he began to reform the city of Cusco by restructuring the street grid, which remains to this day. The city is said to be designed in the shape of a puma, with Coricancha located in the animal’s tail, and considered the holiest site in Incan mythology.

The location of Coricancha within the city was very important. Placed at the convergence of the four main highways and connected to the four districts of the empire, the temple cemented the symbolic importance of religion, uniting the divergent cultural practices that were observed in the vast territory controlled by the Incas.

The temple complex consisted of four main chambers, each dedicated to a different deity of the moon, stars, thunder and rainbows. Much of Coricancha was filled with gold, with one chamber containing a giant sun disc, reflecting sunlight that illuminated the rest of the temple. The disc was aligned so that during the summer solstice it illuminated a sacred space where only the emperor himself was allowed to sit.

During Pachacútec’s reign he made massive conquests, and the Incan empire went on to control an area that, under his successor, would extend from modern-day Colombia to Santiago, Chile. The effective organisation of Cusco no doubt played a large part in this success.


But the glory of the empire was short lived. Disputes over who was to become the next Inca, as well as a devastating smallpox epidemic brought on by European explorers in the 1530s threw the empire into chaos. When Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro arrived he took advantage of the mayhem, and captured the emperor Atahualpa, despite being vastly outnumbered. To pay the ransom demanded by the Spanish for his the release, much of the gold from Coricancha was stripped, and despite the payment, Atahualpa was killed.

After taking Cusco, the Spanish demolished most of Coricancha, melting down its gold plating and sculptures to be sent back to Spain. They then built a cathedral on the site, though they maintained its stone foundations. But ultimately, it was the Incans who had the last laugh, at least at Coricancha. Centuries later, an earthquake completely destroyed the Spanish-made cathedral but left the foundations of the temple intact.

Today, Coricancha may finally be getting the recognition it deserves. Though modern Cusco has expanded enough so that the original puma design is nearly impossible to make out, Coricancha still has an important place in the city and it pulls in many visitors.