Canadian officials found radiation levels in these northern Ontario homes ‘well above’ the safe limit. Their response: ‘¯\_(ツ)_/¯’

By Declan Keogh and Masih Khalatbari, Investigative Journalism Bureau

In January 2021, a senior official with Canada’s nuclear regulator asked a colleague to do a rough, “back-of-the-envelope” calculation on the amount of potentially deadly radiation that residents in Elliot Lake were exposed to in their homes.

The government had just received a complaint that long-forgotten radioactive mine waste was buried underneath some homes in the northern Ontario city. Ron Stenson, senior project officer at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), wanted to “confirm our assumption that 468 Bq/m3 is not an urgent health concern.”

He did not get the answer he wanted. A senior official with the commission’s radiation protection division replied that those levels of radon are “well above” the public radiation dose limit set by federal authorities.

Stenson’s response came 90 minutes later: “¯\_()_/¯.

For too long, shrugging is all the Canadian government has done, as far as local homeowner Lisa Speck is concerned.

The government official’s email is “a true visual representation of the response we’ve received to date,” she says. “It accurately summarizes the respect we’ve been shown.”

Continue reading this article at The Toronto Star →

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