Saskatchewan

Ottawa, Sask. to share uranium mine cleanup

Ottawa and the Saskatchewan government have reached a deal to clean up two abandoned uranium mines in the north – an undertaking expected to cost at least $24 million.

Ottawa and the Saskatchewan government have reached a deal to clean up two abandoned uranium mines in the north – an undertaking expected to cost at least $24 million.

After the Lorado and Gunnar mines near Uranium City were closed in 1964, waste from the mines wasn't properly contained and treated.

According to the federal Natural Resources Department, that led to "negative environmental impacts on local soils and lakes."

The two levels of government have been negotiating for years to reach an agreement on the cleanup in the sparsely populated area.

On Friday, the federal government said it would share the costs.

Buckley Belanger Minister of Northern Affairs Buckley Belanger said the deal is good news people who live in Saskatchewan's north.

This is absolutely very, very important," Belanger said. "The people around Uranium City and the Athabasca basin, they want to see their environment protected, they want to see it cleaned up and of course tourism is such a huge potential for the people in that area."

Belanger said the federal-provincial funding for the cleanup is estimated at $24 million. A 2004 document from the federal Department of Natural Resources gave a $30 million estimate for total cost of the cleanup.

Belanger said people in the north have been patiently waiting for action.

However, the cleanup may not be completed before the end of the decade.

Peter Brown, director of the uranium and radioactive waste division of Natural Resources Canada said an environmental assessment will take two to three years. The cleanup itself could take another three to five years. Brown said it's too early to say how much it will cost.

What wasn't said Friday is how much the private owner of a portion of the Lorado site – Encana, the Calgary-based energy company – will pay. In a news release, the provincial government said "a private company" has agreed to pay a portion of the cleanup costs.

now