This post originally appeared as a media released, released on June 15, 2023.

Blaise Law along with the Canadian Environmental Law Association are legal counsel to the families.

Families in Elliot Lake are demanding action by the federal government and mining company BHP to clean up radioactive wastes found on their properties. This waste was widely used as fill for construction in the 1960s, and came from uranium mines, now closed, that once fueled nuclear power plants.

The residents are calling the presence of radioactive waste at their homes “an egregious failure of Canada’s nuclear regulatory system” as no action has been taken in response to their requests to the federal Ministry of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and BHP for clean up.

Earlier this week, the residents also sent a letter to Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), asking that they issue an order against BHP, requiring the removal of the waste and its proper disposal at a nearby waste facility, which is housed at the now closed BHP mine site and licenced by the nuclear regulator.

Expert testing conducted at the residents’ homes reveals the families are being exposed to radiation well above allowable limits. Property surveys confirm radioactive mine waste is located in their driveways and areas near the homes’ foundations. As the mine waste rock decays, gamma radiation is emitted as well as radon gas, which easily builds up in the indoor, home environment. Radon is a radioactive gas and known human carcinogen.

Legal counsel for the residents have stated the government’s failure to respond is in “striking contrast” to the recently released Policy for Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning, which requires that radioactive wastes be managed in a manner that protects human health, safety and the environment over the long term.

Elected representatives for the area have also voiced their support for the clean up, including MP Hughes who will be addressing the House of Commons later in the day, and MPP Mantha who noted in correspondence to the NRCan, “it is unrealistic to expect an individual to manage the remediation of a contaminated site.”

Members of the public wishing to support the families’ request for a clean up are encouraged to contact NRCan and the CNSC directly at and, as well as reach out to their elected representatives.

Additional Information

  • The City of Elliot Lake in Northern Ontario was once a global ‘uranium capital’ with a booming uranium mining industry. The mines operated from the 1950s to late 1990s.
  • As early as the 1970s, Canada’s nuclear regulator, then called the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB), was aware that radioactive mine waste rock was moved off Rio Algom (now BHP) mine sites and used as fill on housing lots and in construction materials, like concrete, throughout Elliot Lake.
  • Gamma radiation testing recently conducted by experts outside of the Elliot Lake residents’ homes reveals the radioactive waste is located in the home’s driveways and areas near the homes’ foundations. Areas of elevated gamma radiation readings correlate with the location of mine waste, confirming its existence. This corroborates historical documents from Rio Algom and the nuclear regulator that speak of the use of mine waste at residential properties.
  • Radon and gamma radiation experts recently surveyed the Elliot Lake residents’ homes, finding vast exceedances of Canadian limits:
    • Health Canada’s guideline for indoor radon is 200 Bq/m3. The residents’ homes had readings 2 to 9 times recommended limits.
    • Health Canada’s Guidelines for the Management of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) specify that where surface contamination for radiation is measured at a rate of 50 μR/hr at 50cm above ground, further investigation is required. All of the properties surveyed had areas, namely in the driveway and near the homes’ foundations, exceeding this guideline.
    • The annual allowable dose of radiation for a member of the public is 1 millisievert (mSv). The residents’ exposures range from 8 – 32 mSv of radiation annually.
  • No protections are in place to monitor the health of residents. As a result, the families are being exposed to radiation well above allowable Canadian limits. If this mine waste was located at a licenced site, health and environmental protections would be in place to limit public exposures and mitigate impacts.