Fraser Law Professional Corporation

Real Estate, Wills and Estates, Corporate Law

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270 Bond St. West, Oshawa

Purchasing Real Estate In Port Hope and Low Level Radioactive Waste Issues

Home owners in Port Hope, Ontario, currently face a unique obstacle when attempting to sell their homes; that is, several properties have been discovered to be contaminated with Low Level Radioactive Waste (LLRW). What is LLRW? A waste is classified as LLRW if it is radioactive and neither nuclear fuel waste nor uranium mine and mill tailings. In the following paragraphs I will provide a brief outline of how Port Hope became contaminated with LLRW, and the relevancy to purchasers and property owners regarding the LLRW contamination of properties in Port Hope.

One may be curious on how radioactive materials ended up in small town Port Hope, Ontario. In 1932, a federal crown corporation named Eldorado Resources Limited began processing uranium ore in Port Hope harbor. Radioactive waste was leaking into local ravines, being dumped in the harbor, and used as 'fill in material' under houses and roads. Upon collapse of the radium industry the federal government tore down buildings used to process uranium and gave the materials away to whomever wanted them. These materials were further used to build local houses and buildings in Port Hope.

In July 2001, the Low Level Radioactive Waste Management Office (LLRWMO) was designated by the federal government to clean up the LLRW in Port Hope and for the long term safe management of LLRW in new storage facilities built in the area. All properties in Ward 1 and a few in Ward 2 of Port Hope are currently being 'radiologically re - surveyed' in order to test for LLRW. If LLRW is discovered, the LLRWMO is responsible for excavating the contaminated soil and safely transporting it to the storage facilities.

How does this apply to everyday real estate transactions in Port Hope, Ontario? A potential purchaser of property in Port Hope will want to know whether the property in question is contaminated with LLRW. The presence of radioactive waste can drastically reduce the value of a property. In fact, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada reports that Port Hope property values in 2005 were 12% lower than standard due to presence of radioactive waste. This equates to as much as $30,000.00 loss per house hold. As such, the presence of radioactive waste at a property can prevent a sale or make it more difficult at the least. However, if LLRW is discovered at a property, the LLRWO will excavate and transfer the contaminated materials to storage facilities free of charge in order to bring the property into compliance and be LLRW free. Vendors, purchasers, realtors and lawyers can take solace in this as this can save a real estate deal.

In order to acquire information pertaining to the radiological status of a particular property, a home owner (or their lawyer or realtor) is to contact the LLRWMO and initiate a Property Compliance Program (PCP) request. When a request is initiated the LLRWMO will review and assess the historical radiological data information on file for that particular property. If required, the LLRWMO will follow up with further radiological monitoring and testing. If upon completion of a PCP request for a property in Ward 1 or one of the designated properties in Ward 2, a homeowner will either receive a Compliance Letter indicating their property is LLRW free or an Radiological Status Letter (RSL) stating LLRW is detected and remediation (i.e. clean up) is required. When remediation is complete and LLRW is no longer detected, then a Compliance Letter is provided to the homeowner and an RSL is no longer needed when selling that particular property. Therefore, not every sale of a property in Port Hope requires an RSL. In fact, roughly 90 % of properties will not require remediation. It is mandatory for a Vendor to disclose an RSL and Compliance Letter to a purchaser, and it is the RSL that can have implications for the purchaser in regards to receiving financing from a financial institution. Lastly, despite current detection and remediation of LLRW, based on findings from 40 different health studies on Port Hope, no adverse health effects have occurred.

Thank you for reading. Please contact the undersigned for further inquiries. We ask that you consider our firm for any future real estate, wills and estates, and / or corporate law assistance you, your clients, or your family may require.

Fraser Law now provides legal services to the outlying areas of Bowmanville, Whitby and Port Perry, in addition to our Oshawa area clients we currently serve.

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