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Low Level Waste Disposal Site: Effects of the Project on the Environment

Environmental Assessment: Effects of the Project on the Environment

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

To develop a full set of requirements for the conceptual design of a Low Level Waste Disposal site in Canada, the impact of the project on the environment must be analyzed and the issues addressed.  The public acts as a stakeholder in allowing the project to proceed, so it is important to address them as a part of the Environmental Assessment and address their questions and concerns.  To address the effects of the project on the environment, potential interactions have been developed and evaluated to determine the measurable change that would result.  Following this, effects on the environment and mitigation measures were analyzed.  The result is a table assessing the impact of the effects as a result of the project found in Appendix A.  Evaluation components include: atmospheric environment, geology and groundwater, aquatic environment, terrestrial environment, socio-economic environment, aboriginal interests, and human health and safety.  It was found that the overall effect of the project on the environment for each of the respective criteria, was a minor adverse effect.  The project brings benefits and minor adverse conditions through its lifetime.

INTRODUCTION

A conceptual design for the permanent disposal site for Low Level Waste from nuclear power plants is being proposed.  The Moonbeam site is located in the municipality of Neverfound, Los.  The disposal method is similar to that used at mining sites containing hazardous materials.  The disposal method is a double liner landfill system.  The waste form is stored in a metal container within the concrete backfill layer of the liner.  This liner is surrounded by 2 geomembrane layers which act to stop the ingress and egress of water from and to the site.  A geosynthetic clay layer acts to do the same as well as provide structural support to the liner.  The system is complete with a leachate collection system and topsoil cap to prevent exposure to the environment.  The site only accepts solid LLW in incinerated and metal form.  The site is expected to last 700 years.

To complete the requirements needed to create the design and supplement the site, an Environmental Assessment was completed.  The EA defined the environmental conditions at the Moonbeam site and within Neverfound, Los.  This description allowed for the evaluation of the effects of the project on the surrounding environment.  Using a combination of Valued Ecosystem Component (VEC) identification, as well as malfunction and accident analysis for the liner system, an assessment for the effects on various environmental components was completed.  Mitigation measures have been addressed to mitigate the adverse effects or eliminate them completely.

PROBLEM STATEMENT

To determine some of the requirements and considerations for operation of the Low Level Waste Disposal Site, it is first necessary to identify the effects the project may have on the surrounding environment.  What are the potential environmental effects of the project on the environment and what is the impact of each effect?

SCOPE -ASSESSMENT METHODOLOGY

A series of steps were utilized to assess and mitigate environmental effects.  The first step was to identify the potential interactions of the project on the environment.  The interactions were then evaluated individually to determine whether each would result in a measurable change to the environment, and/or the identified Valued Ecosystem Components (VEC’s). Following this, the effects on the environment and mitigation measures were evaluated.  Effects that could not be mitigated and were likely to have remaining or residual environmental effects were identified.

Maximum credible scenarios which bounded the potential environmental effects of the project work, and the specific conditions for occurrence, were created.  These assisted in the evaluation of environmental components.  The approach taken is highly conservative as the assessment is bound by basing predictions of effects on typical overestimations of project-related parameter (i.e. emissions, traffic levels, etc).

The subsequent section of this report outlines the radiological and non-radiological effects likely to occur as a result of the project for each of the following evaluation components: atmospheric environment, geology and groundwater, aquatic environment, terrestrial environment, socio-economic environment, aboriginal interests, and human health and safety.  The considerations, mitigation measures, and anticipated adverse effects are detailed for each of the components.

SCOPE – SPATIAL AND TEMPORAL BOUNDARIES OF ASSESSMENT

Time Frames

The time periods utilized for the environmental assessment reflect the phases of development, operation, and condition of the project.  Below is a summary of each of the phases.

Existing Environment Baseline from 2016-2018:

This represents the present-day existing site conditions and the pre-project conditions of the site.  The site is subject to effects due to human activities both in the past and present prior to the start of the project.

Construction Phase from 2022 to 2027:

This phase includes the time in which all LLW disposal site construction and site remediation activities would occur, including transportation activities.

Maintenance and Monitoring from 2027 to 2727:

This phase includes the operational lifetime of the Near Surface Disposal Site and has been separated into three sequential time frames:

Early Life (2027-2043): This time frame covers the first few decades of the completed and operating Near Surface Disposal Site.  During this stage, the site is expected to experience no deterioration or degradation and function as well as intended.

Mid Life (2043-2218): This time frame covers the time frame during the operation of the site after the first couple decades to the first one hundred and seventy five years.  During this period, degradation may be present due to the age of the site and due to weather conditions.

Late Life (2218-2723): This time frame covers after the first one hundred and seventy five years to the end of the planned operational life of the Near Surface Disposal Site (700 years).  It is expected that many components within the system have experienced degradation due to weather and age, or natural disaster events.  Integral component replacement would be conducted during this stage as necessary and routine maintenance would occur for accessible components.

Beyond the Site Design Life > 2723:

The planned operation of the site does not extend past 700 years.

Geographic Study Areas

Regional, local, and site study areas have been evaluated and are listed below.  These boundaries have been tailored to the environmental subcomponent being addressed in order to ensure the full extent of environmental effects are assessed.

Regional Study Area

The Regional Study Area comprises the Municipality of Neverfound, Los, all municipalities and townships within a 30km radius of the Municipality of Neverfound, Los, and extends approximately 5km into Lake Solarus.

Local Study Area

The Local Study Area consists of the southern portion of the Municipality of Nerverfound, Los. The local study area extends approximately 1 km into Lake Solarus.

Site Study Area

The approximate 50 ha site includes a dedicated access road.  The site is bordered by the highway to the north and by the south by rural and residential lots. Refer to Figure 1 below for the Study Areas.

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Figure 1: Moonbeam RWM facility Study Areas.

ASSUMPTIONS

It is assumed that the Neverfound, Los municipality mimics that of Port Hope, Ontario in Canada.  All regulatory conditions and standards applicable in Ontario are also the regulatory conditions and standards used in Neverfound, Los.  It is assumed that all the results and information presented in the Port Hope Environmental Assessment for the long-term isolation of Low Level Waste is the data obtained from doing analysis and field work at the Moonbeam site.  Other assumptions can be found within the RESULTS AND ANALYSIS section of this report as they are needed (keywords: expected, predicted).

RESULTS AND ANALYSIS – LIKELY ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS

Atmospheric Environment

The assessment considers air quality and noise under the atmospheric environmental effects.  The maximum credible scenarios included in this case were the activities contributing to dust generation and noise creation. The criteria were as follows:

  • Air Quality: Ontario Ministry of Environment Ambient Air Quality Criteria (AAQC); Federal air quality guidelines; Occupational Exposure Guidelines (NIOSH); Canadian NORM Limits (HC); Radon Criteria (CNSC).
  • Noise: Ontario Ministry of Environment Model Municipal Noise By-Law; Local Noise Ordinance (Port Hope).

Air Quality

The air quality was evaluated for particulates, air contaminants, odour, particulate bound materials, wind-eroded dust, and landfill gas constituents.

Particulate Emissions: Total Suspended Particulates (TSP) will be within the MOE annual average AAQC of 60 µg/m3.  The maximum 24-hour AAQC of 120 µg/mwas not exceeded in any of the residential surveys, but was exceeded from 1 to 6 times, with values of 136.8 µg/mand 166 µg/m3, at two non-residential receptors within the spatial boundaries.

For PM10, the predicted total annual concentrations were between 10 to 20 µg/m3.  This does not exceed the maximum 24-hour AAQC of 50 µg/m3, but it is predicted that this value was exceeded at some of the non-residential receptors with values of 58.7 µg/mand 88.9 µg/m3.  These exceedances were found at the receptors immediately adjacent to the disposal site and are considered adverse effects (Natural Resources Canada, CNSC, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2006).

For PM2.5, the standard of 30 µg/mwas exceeded at non-residential receptors in close proximity to the disposal site with a maximum value of 53.0 µg/m3.  Values at all other receptors are expected to fall in the 98th percentile and all exceedances are considered adverse effects (CNSC et al., 2006).

Dustfall is predicted to exceed the MOE monthly criterion at locations in close proximity to the disposal site during certain construction periods, but infrequently.  Two fence line locations are predicted to exceed the annual criterion (CNSC et al., 2006).

Air Contaminants: Criteria Air Contaminants (CACs), including nitrogen oxides (NO2), Sulphur oxides (SO2), and carbon monoxides (CO), are common air pollutants.  CO and SO2 are expected to stay within the MOE 24-hour average AAQC.  The NO2 standard of 200 µg/m3, was exceeded at three non-residential receptors where transportation was active.  The range obtained from the survey indicated between 323.0-473.9 µg/m3.  The exceedances are considered to be an adverse effect.  If engines for the transportation vehicles are lower emission engines, in accordance with the Off-Road Compression-Ignition Engine Emission Regulation, these emissions are expected to reduce by 50% or more (CNSC et al., 2006).

Odour: Exceedances of the MOE odour guideline are considered to be an adverse effect.  The concentrations in the vicinity of the disposal site were 0.025 Odour Unit/m3.  This value decreased with distance from the site.  On the site, the MOE 10-minute average odour guideline of 1 OU/mwill only be occasionally exceeded.  Local residents are not expected to be affected by odour as they are located farther away from the disposal site (CNSC et al., 2006).

Mitigation measures will be implemented to mitigate the odour effects from the site.  Excavation will be restricted to the winter minimizing the disruption to local residents, the working face exposure will be minimized at any one time, the working face will be covered at days end, exposed leachate will be drawn down, and odour suppression chemicals will be utilized.

Particulate Bound Materials: Non-radioactive metals and metal-like contaminants (i.e. boron) are considered to be contaminants of potential concern (COPCs).  The predicted concentration in air for these were compared to the 24-hour average baseline considerations and the 24-hour average AAQC.

The maximum levels of arsenic and cobalt exceeded the AAQCs and are considered an adverse effect.  Cobalt exceeded the AAQC value of 0.1 µg/m3 at a few of the residential locations.  The maximum 24-hour concentration for cobalt is 0.55 µg/m3.  Arsenic, with an AAQC of 0.3 µg/m3, was not exceeded at residential receptors, however, it was exceeded at other receptors with a maximum value of up to 0.637 µg/m3.  The higher concentrations are due to waste handling at the disposal site (CNSC et al., 2006).

To mitigate the exceedances, construction vehicle movements on top of contaminated material in in the emplacement areas will be minimized.  This will allow for concentrations below AAQC.  Particulate-bound metal concentrations verification will be included in the follow-up program due to uncertainties.

Wind Eroded Dust: The potential for suspension of wind-eroded particulate was analyzed to determine whether the presence of non-vegetated areas at the disposal site would result in dust emissions and concentrations at levels of concern.  MOE AAQCs were not exceeded at any of the locations surveyed on or offsite.  Wind erosion contributed less than 10% to the maximum offsite concentrations and offsite contributions of contaminated wind eroded materials was negligible (CNSC et al., 2006).

To address windblown dust, the following measures have been taken: dust suppressants will be applied, exposed areas and stockpiles will be covered, if high wind conditions are encountered then all activities will temporarily be stopped, and revegetation of the excavation sites will occur as soon as practicable.

Noise

Noise is unwanted sound.  Table 1 below indicates the generally accepted criteria for assessing noise impacts (CNSC et al., 2006).  The effect of the project on noise were assessed for transportation routes and the disposal site.

Table 1: Qualitative Criteria for Assessing Noise Impacts

The sound levels from traffic on the haul routes are predicted to increase over background sound levels by a maximum of 1 dBA.  Humans are most likely to be unable to detect this difference, so it is not considered an adverse effect.

An average daytime background noise of 52 dBA was recorded for roads adjacent to the disposal site.  The average sound level for traffic increases is predicted to remain at 52 dBA and during peak transportation hors, increase to 53 dBA at a maximum.  With a decreased truck speed or long idle periods for trucks, the noise level is expected to be at 53 dBA.  This represents a marginal impact to residents as per Table 1 (CNSC et al., 2006).

Noise pertaining to the construction of the site is audible at receptors within 800 m of the site.  Beyond this distance, noise is expected to be at background levels.  Construction has been limited to daylight hours to minimize disturbance to residences.

Although the noise levels are not considered to be adverse effects, mitigation measures have been taken to ensure residences are not disturbed.  Construction equipment will comply with the emission standards in NPC-115 of the Ontario Model Municipal Noise Control By-Law.  Construction activities are prohibited from 23:00 to 7:00 am due to Nerverfound, Los By-Law No. 20/2002.  Trucks and other heavy equipment will be equipped with properly functioning mufflers.  Tailgate banging will be avoided at all activity sites.  Trucks must comply with the posted speed limits and empty trucks must reduce their speed on site and on local roads to avoid excessive cargo box and tray noise.  Construction hoarding will be erected where practical and as necessary (CNSC et al., 2006).

Radon

The source of radon expected from project activities is the release from pore spaces of soils as they are excavated/handled.  It is expected that there would be sources from the landfill gas as well as the leachate within the lifetime of the disposal site.

The radon released from pore space is calculated using a formula that factors in the volume of contaminated soil, the average Ra-222 concentration in excavated soils, the bulk density, and the assumption that radon is in equilibrium with Ra-226.   The radon flux from the surface of porous materials is estimated by scaling on the basis of radium content and exposed surface area.  Any material placed above contaminated soils or waste will act as a radon barrier.  In the disposal site, multiple layers are proposed so with each subsequent layer, the amount of radon escape would be decreased (CNSC et al., 2006).

Mitigation measures mimic those presented for wind-eroded dust.  Radon concentrations at the fenceline for the site are expected to average at 25.3 Bq/m3.  This level is below the highest existing annual mean concentration of 37 Bq/m3.  Once the facility is constructed, concentrations will approach background levels.  Therefore, radon concentrations will not lead to any adverse effects.  The follow-up program will monitor radon concentrations in air (CNSC et al., 2006).

Particulate Radioactivity

The expected radionuclides from the waste site are C-14, H-3, Co-60, and I-129.  None of the volumetric or activity concentrations of these radionuclides is expected to exceed regulatory limits.

Mitigation measures include dust control on unpaved roads and excavation areas, vacuum sweeping, and water flushing of paved roads.  No residual adverse environmental effects are predicted (CNSC et al., 2006).

Geology and Groundwater Environment

In this study, soil quality, groundwater flow, groundwater quality, and drainage quality were considered for adverse effects.  To evaluate, the following criteria was used:

  • Soil Quality: MOE Soil, Groundwater and Sediment Standards for Use Under Part XV.1 of the Environmental Protection Act;
  • Groundwater Flow: Net change in infiltration, hydraulic gradient, and groundwater direction;
  • Groundwater Quality: Ontario Provincial Water Quality Objectives (PWQO), Ontario Drinking Water Standards, Objectives and Guidelines (ODWS), MOE Soil, Groundwater and Sediment Standards for Use Under Part XV.1 of the Environmental Protection Act Rationale for Development of Generic Soil, Groundwater and Sediment Criteria for Contaminated Sites in Ontario (MOE 2004);
  • Drainage Water Quality: PWQO, net change in run off.

Soil Quality

Soil quality is not expected to be improve or decrease in quality as a result of this project.  All excavated soil is expected to be re-used as much as possible.  Potential adverse effects could occur for areas beyond the excavation site due to accumulation of contaminants on the surface soil from airborne transportation.

The activities with potential effects of soil quality are related to cell excavation, liner construction, on-site excavation, and the placement of the waste.  Modelling concluded that arsenic and cobalt were the largest concern.  Other non-radiological COPCs are not considered measurable.

The mean incremental increase of arsenic in soil at the perimeter of the site is predicted to be 130% over baseline concentration.  However, both the mean and maximum concentrations predicted for arsenic are well below the MOE soil quality guidelines (CNSC et al., 2006).

The mean incremental increase of cobalt in the soil at the perimeter of the site is predicted to be 28% over the baseline concentrations.  However, both the mean and maximum concentrations predicted for cobalt are well below the MOE soil quality guidelines 9CNSC et al., 2006).

Reducing the travel distance for equipment distributing contaminated materials is a mitigation measure which can be used to reduce the concentrations for both arsenic and cobalt. Temporary road networks can be established to accomplish this.

With both the concentration of cobalt and arsenic below the MOE soil quality guidelines, a residual effect is not represented by soil quality.

Groundwater and Drainage Water Flow, Quantity and Quality

During site construction, unaffected runoff will be directed to the storm water management pond.  During construction, precipitation would fall on to the uncompleted cells and potentially come in contact with the waste.  The leachate collection system will collect leachate and it will be treated along with drainage water and groundwater.  It is not expected that the quality or quantity of the groundwater or drainage will change during construction.

During Maintenance and Monitoring, the low-permeability cover and liner system will reduce the ingress of groundwater to the facility which can potentially cause a localized change in the groundwater flow volume and direction.  With the waste isolated, groundwater is protected from contamination.  The permeability of the geomembrane layer, depending on the selected material, is expected to be on the order of 10-13 cm/s and upwards of 6.0 x10-7 cm/s for the clay layers (CNSC et al., 2006).

Reducing infiltration, the low-permeability cover would cause the volume of water collected as surface runoff to be much greater than during baseline conditions.  This would also reduce the volume of contaminated groundwater and drainage collected in the water collection and treatment system.  Drainage water discharge from the site would be reduced from 81,290 m3/a to 27,380 m3/a.  The volume of groundwater intercepted by the on-site collection system would be reduced from 127,000 m3/a to 88,750 m3/a.  This is a beneficial effect due to the reduction in drainage water and groundwater requiring collection and treatment (CNSC et al., 2006).

Using modelling for the infiltration through the cover system and the migration of the COPC in leachate through the liner system, a maximum breakthrough for the COPC could be found.  Breakthrough was found to be less than 1% of the PWQO and ODWS criteria which is not considered a measurable change (CNSC et al., 2006).

The largest impact in water quality improvement is predicted to occur during the early life of the disposal site.  COPC concentrations in drainage water and groundwater are expected to decline over time due to the flushing of the contaminants from the aquifer.  This is a beneficial effect.

Leachate generation is expected to be 150 m3/a during the early life of the site.  This volume will decline and stabilize over a 10-30 year period.  It would be pumped out to the water collection and treatment system of the site and the treated water would be pumped to Lake Solarus.  Groundwater changes will not change as a result.

The quantity and quality of groundwater discharging to the surround creeks during the construction of the site is predicted to remain the same as baseline conditions.  After construction, the groundwater discharge is expected to decrease by 25 to 338,230 m3/a.  This is not measurable or an adverse effect.  Background values will be achieved once the facility is completed.

Radiological Soil Quality

Soil quality in soils peripheral to the excavation site is expected to be affected by atmospheric deposition of contaminants. It is predicted that the mean incremental concentrations of radiological contaminants will be less than 20% of background at the disposal site meaning un-measurable.

Radiological Groundwater and Drainage Water Quality

No interactions between the project and the environment are expected to result in a measurable change to the radiological components of existing groundwater quality during the construction phase.  This means there will be no environmental effects on the groundwater quality and no mitigation measures required.

The volume and concentrations of COPCs discharging from groundwater to the treatment systems is expected to be a measurable change.  The change is expected to be positive as explained previously in the report.

Aquatic Environment

The environmental effects of the project on the aquatic environment was evaluated with respect to water quality, sediment quality, fish communities and habitat, invertebrate communities, aquatic plant communities, hydrology and coastal processes, and radioactivity in the aquatic environment.  The following criteria was used:

  • Water quality/sediment quality: PWQOs, Ontario Provincial Sediment Quality Guidelines, measurability of change, implications for aquatic life;
  • Radionuclides in aquatic biota, measurability of change, implications for aquatic life;
  • Fish communities and habitats/invertebrate communities/aquatic plant communities, potential for community change through toxicity or habitat alteration;
  • Hydrology and coastal process, potential for stream flow reductions of fish habitat significance.

All project works and undertakings with impacts on water bodies and/or water courses that support wildlife are required to be conducted in a manner consistent with the Fisheries Act and the DFO “Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat (1986)”.

Surface Water Quality

The disposal site low-permeability cover and stormwater management system are expected to significantly decrease surface water infiltration into and through contaminated materials to groundwater.  This will improve water quality in the surrounding creeks by reducing the transport of contaminants through the groundwater.  An increase in flow of uncontaminated surface water to the creeks from the stormwater management system would improve water quality.  This is a beneficial effect.

Leachate generated within the site will be collected, treated, and discharged by pipeline to Lake Solarus.  The quantity of collected leachate is predicted to be reduced to approximately 150 m3/a.  This would reduce the contaminant loadings from current treated effluent discharges to the lake by approximately 445 and improve lake water quality at the discharge point.  This is also a beneficial effect.  No adverse effects on the surface water quality are expected as a result of the project (CNSC et al., 2006).

Sediment Quality, Fish Communities and Habitats, Invertebrate, and Aquatic Plant Communities

The project is not expected to have any adverse effects on the sediment quality, fish communities and habitats, invertebrates, or aquatic plant communities.  There is no expected alterations required for Solarus Lake or the respective creeks in the area.  Water quality is to be improved and discharged into both the creeks and the lake, improving the quality of life the fish species.  This a beneficial effect.

Surface Water Quality – Radiological

The low permeability cover of the disposal site, and the facilities stormwater management features, would decrease the amount of surface water infiltration into and through the contaminated channels to the groundwater sources.  Mitigation measures include the design, operation, and management of the project proposal.

Sediment Quality – Radiological

The effects on sediment quality are directly related to the effects on the surface water.  This means the concentrations would be expected to decrease.

Radionuclides in Aquatic Biota

Due to the liner system implemented at the disposal site, radionuclides, other than background levels, are not expected in the aquatic biota.

Terrestrial Environment

This assessment evaluated vegetation communities, wildlife habitats, wildlife communities, and radioactivity in the terrestrial environment.  The criteria is as follows:

  • Vegetation Communities: air quality criteria including MOE Point of Impingement, 24 hour AAQC, and chemical properties, scientific literature, measurability of change, implications for vegetation communities;
  • Wildlife Habitats: air quality criteria, scientific literature, measurability of change, implications for wildlife habitats;
  • Wildlife Communities: air quality criteria, scientific literature, measurability of change, implications for wildlife communities; and,
  • Radioactivity: air quality criteria, radiological dose criteria (CNSC).

Vegetation Communities

Site preparation for the disposal site will convert vegetation communities throughout 11% of the Local Study Area and 47% of the Site Study Area.  Temporary vegetation loss would occur throughout 3% of the Local Study Area and 11% of the Site Study Area.  No vegetation of high ecological importance will be removed as part of the project.  This is an adverse effect (CNSC et al., 2006).

To mitigate the potential adverse effects, the best practices (i.e. erosion and sediment control structures around the site; application of dust suppressant techniques) and immediate site rehabilitation upon completion.  The disposal site stormwater management pond will be located outside of the wooded area in an area of Cultural Meadow vegetation since the meadow vegetation is of lower ecological importance than that located in the wooded area.  The site-specific Landscape Plan will be qualified by a landscape architect of biologist for the site.  The plan will consider site-specific plantings with input from the local Conservation Authority and Municipality to address the community preferences.  Development of new vegetation communities at the site rather than the re-creation of pre-construction conditions in accordance with CNSC license requirement and the proposed end use for the site.  All efforts will be made to enhance the terrestrial environment at the site.

Wildlife Habitat

The interior forest habitat will be affected by the project and the interior grassland habitat will likely increase.  About 12% of the wildlife corridors will be affected by the project.  About 8.5% of habitat complexes will be affected by the project.  The majority of the habitat losses will occur at the margins of the corridor habitats and would not compromise the function.  The majority of the effects on the complexes is temporary as affected habitat areas will be re-established or converted into new habitats upon completion of construction.  This is an adverse effect (CNSC et al., 2006).

Mitigation measures include: vegetation clearing should not take place in migratory bird habitat during the breeding season (March 30th to July 23rd).  If work must be conducted during the migratory bird breeding season, a nest survey will be conducted by an avian biologist immediately prior to commencement of the work to identify and locate active nests of species covered by the Migratory Birds Convention Act. A mitigation would be developed to address impacts and forwarded to Environment Canada prior to implementation (CNSC et al., 2006). No residual effects are expected.

Wildlife Communities

The impact on wildlife communities is expected to be minor as a result of the construction of the waste management pond at the disposal site.  The pond will provide an onsite amphibian habitat which serves as a beneficial effect.  No residual effects are anticipated so no mitigation measures are required.

Ecological Risk Assessment for Future Conditions

Changes in air quality, and consequences of the changes, have been studied to assess the impacts of future radionuclide and COPC levels in the terrestrial environment.  This was done for soil quality and the uptake of radionuclides by plants, and the ingestion of plant tissue by wildlife at the disposal site.  Measurable increases in COPCs are expected.  The highest increments of atmospheric concentrations were for arsenic and cobalt with increments in soil at the perimeter of 130% or 37.7 Bq/kg and 1.89 mg/kg.  These incremental changes do not result in exposures higher than relevant benchmarks.  No measurable changes are expected and no adverse effects are expected (CNSC et al., 2006).

Socio-economic Environment

The following sub-components were evaluated: Population and Economic Base, Land Use and Visual Setting, Community Infrastructure, Community Services, Traffic and Transportation, Municipal Finance and Administration, Residents and Communities, and Heritage Resources.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) defines environmental effect as direct changes to the biophysical environment caused by the project and the effects of these environmental changes on specific environmental components (CNSC et al., 2006).

Effects in this section were occurred as a result of biophysical effects related to the project or when research on public attitudes and public opinion indicated there were effects.

Population and Economic Base

Population: The project will result in the relocation of tenants at two rental properties and the voluntary out-migration of residents from the neighborhoods closest to the disposal site and along the major transportation routes during the Construction phase of the project.  The out-migration is in the order of 1% to 3% along transportation routes and up to 10% in the neighborhoods closest to the disposal site.  These are adverse effects (CNSC et al., 2006).

Employment, Business Activity, and Economic Development: Two tenant business operations require relocation.  It is expected that business activities at commercial operations with outdoor components, operation on the transportation routes, and some farm operations may be disrupted.  These are adverse effects.  The increase in business activity that could be generated due to the project is deemed a positive effect.

Tourism: There is no indication that the project will have any effect on the tourism industry.  With increased traffic and potential nuisance effects can cause a negative trend in the tourism industry which accounts for adverse effects.

Agriculture: There are no indications that the project will cause change to the agriculture industry.  Farms located within the influence zone of the disposal site may experience increased dust concentrations and noise which could disrupt activities and operations.  This is an adverse effect.

To mitigate these effects, the following measures can be applied: a project communication program can be implemented to include business communications plans, enhanced liaison with economic development and tourism officials to address conflicts between the project and events, and enhance liaison with farmers to keep awareness of project activities.  Arrangements for accommodation will be made for short term private property owners as necessary.

Visual Setting

During the Construction phase, the disposal site will be visible occupying approximately 1,914 ha of viewshed.  Activities at the site will be visible to some residences at various times, which is an adverse effect.  Once completed, the view will mimic others within the viewshed (CNSC et al., 2006).

To mitigate this, visual berms, noise barriers, and landscaping will be completed to reduce visibility and disruption associated with the project.  A landscape and lighting plan will be developed to minimize the visibility of the disposal site.

Community Infrastructure

Housing and Property Values: In the long-term, the project is expected to have a positive influence on local property markets.  In the short term, there may be a decline in property values between 2% and 8% within the influence zone (Construction and Maintenance and Monitoring stages).  During this time, an increase in property turnover and difficult marketing will ensue.  This is an adverse effect (CNSC et al., 2006).

A Legal Agreement exists between the Municipality of Neverfound, Los and the Government that provides for a Property Value Protection Program to address losses in property value related to the project.  Rental income and mortgage renewal difficulties are also assessed as a part of this program.  The Legal Agreement is valid up until 2 years after the completion and closure of the disposal site.  A property value increase is considered a beneficial effect.

Community Services

Community and Recreational Facilities: The project will result in some change in the use and availability of some community and recreational facilities in the area.  The changes are expected to be minor, however, this is still an adverse effect.

Recreational Fishing: Some non-residents may choose to fish somewhere else to fish if they find the project renders the waterfront less attractive for fishing.  With increased noise, dust, potential odours, and truck traffic, the experience may change for anglers.  This is an adverse effect.

Use of trails and natural areas: The community expects their use of the trails and natural areas in the influence zone will negatively change as a result of the project.  This is judged to be an adverse effect.  Completion of the project will increase opportunities for recreational uses which classifies as a beneficial effect.

Educational Facilities: Schools within the zone of influence may experience nuisance effects and risk the potential for interaction of the students with site activities effecting the student safety.  This is judged to be an adverse effect.

To mitigate these effects, the following measures can be take: implementation of nuisance effect management systems, minimizing activities during the first two weeks of the fishing season, avoidance of project related trucking during school bus pick-up/drop-off times along transportation routes, an orientation program for truck drivers focused on school and child safety concerns, maintain access to trails and restore the trails following site construction, and implement a communication program that includes enhanced liaison with fishers, clubs, boaters, and all involved groups to ensure awareness of project activities.

Traffic and Transportation

No measurable change to the transportation system operations.  A traffic monitoring program will be implemented on the major transportation routes.  The program will also undertake road and bridge quality assessments to confirm predictions and assess effectiveness of mitigation measures.  It is possible the increase in traffic can disrupt other users, pedestrians, and non-motorized traffic.  This is judged as an adverse effect.

Mitigation measures include: undertaking remedial pavement treatment on route segments where excessive road wear is detected; ensuring thorough traffic clauses, that trucks adhere to the preferred transportation routes, and drivers pass an orientation program focused on safety; optimizing off-site trucking activities through delivery timing windows, convoy use, and material stockpiling; establishing contingency plans in the event of a road closure; ensuring access and proper construction signage for neighborhoods; improving pavement marking and signage along the transportation routes.

Residents and Communities

Use and Enjoyment of Property/Community Amenities: Resident within the influence zone might change their use or experience of their property due to nuisance effects pertaining to the project.  This is an adverse effect.

Community Character: Community character may experience adverse effects as a result of the project activities.  Increase traffic and noise are incompatible with the community character.

To mitigate these adverse conditions, the following measure can be implemented: a project communication program can be established to keep residents informed and implementation of a complaint resolution process.  An information program will be provided for affected residents, the name of the site must not link it to the community, and an end use for the site that would maximize potential to address effects on community character are additional measures which can be taken.

Heritage Resources

It is expected that no heritage resources will be affected by project activities, it is possible for the project to discover heritage sites which have not undergone resource investigation.  The measures used to mitigate this are: stop work immediately upon discovery of heritage resources or remains and only resume once cleared by the Ministry, implementation of a program regarding identification and management of archaeological artefacts for heavy equipment operators, and contact with the Advisory Committee prior to physical work within a heritage district.

Aboriginal Interests

Traditional Use of Lands and Resources

The First Nations communities believe that the long-term effects of the project on the environment cannot be accurately predicted in the present day, so there is a risk to health and productivity of the environment.  They believe there may be a consequential effect on the ability of future generations to exercise their Aboriginal and Treaty rights.  This represents a potential environmental effect to the project.  It was found the First Nations actively practice traditional and non-traditional land use within the Regional and Local Study Areas.  As mentioned previously in the report, studies conducted have concluded no residual adverse effects on the wildlife, vegetation, or communities.  The adverse effects on the current use of land and resources for traditional purposes by Aboriginal persons are not anticipated.

Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Resources

No heritage sites are located directly at, or near the Site Study Area.  The archaeological potential of the site is very low, however still possible as mentioned previously in the report.

Human Health and Safety

The criteria used to assess possible effects on human health and safety included federal legislation and regulations (i.e. Radiation Protection Regulations under the Nuclear Safety Act, the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations under the Canada Labour Code); provincial standards (i.e. AAQC, ODWS, Provincial Water Quality Objectives); industry performance data, published scientific values, and professional judgement.

Workers

All maximum dust exposures have been predicted to be within the established weighted average criteria for acute 8-hour exposures.  To predict chronic exposures, all conventional contaminants were carried forward to further consideration scenarios associated with specific duties and maximum credible exposure.

It is expected that the physical hazards associated with project activities would result in rates of 2.0 to 3.0 Lost Time Accidents and 8.0 to 10.0 Total Recordable Accidents per 100 workers over a year (CNSC et al., 2006).

To mitigate this, workers will be provided with and required to use noise protection equipment and associated protective equipment set as per the Neverfound, Los Site Health and Safety Plan.

Workers – Radiological

It is expected that radiation doses will range between 1.6 and 2.7 mSv.  Workers who may be exposed will be classified as Nuclear Energy Workers (NEWs).  The range is below the annual dose limit for NEWs of 100mSv in five years with no single year exceeding 50mSv (CNSC et al., 2006).

Members of the Public

The annual radiation doses predicted for residents living close to the site ranged from 0.12 mSv for an adult on a median diet scenario, to 0.25 mSv for an infant on an upper bound diet scenario.  These doses would be measurable effects, however, all predicted doses are less than 25% of the CNSC public dose lime of 1 mSv/a.  Therefore, they are not considered adverse effects (CNSC et al., 2006).

To mitigate radiation exposure for workers and the public, a radiation protection program will be developed with and ALARA component.  Radiation doses will be actively monitored.

CONCLUSION

The overall impact on each of the environmental components is minor adverse effects.  This can be seen from the summary table outline in Appendix A.  The conceptual design has accounted for each of the findings of the EA to be in accordance with regulations and standards as required.  Effects will continue to be monitored as a part of the follow-up program and the assessment will be re-evaluated if needed.

REFERENCES

Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Fisheries and Oceans Canada. (2006, December). The Port Hope Long-Term Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Project. Retrieved 14 November 2017, from http://www.phai.ca/site/media/phai/ENG_ScreeningReport_PH_FINAL(1).pdf

APPENDIX – A

Using Table 2 and 3, the significance of the effect criteria for socio-economic and health and safety considerations was formed (CNSC et al., 2006).

Table 2: Significance of Effects Criteria and Measurement parameters – Socio-Economic Environment

Table 3: Significance of Effects Criteria and Measurement Parameters – Human Health and Safety Considerations



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