Saskatchewan, feds at odds over abandoned uranium mine remediation

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Saskatchewan, feds at odds over abandoned uranium mine remediation
WATCH: The Saskatchewan and federal governments are in dispute over the cleanup of abandoned uranium mines – Jun 4, 2019

The federal government has responded to a lawsuit by Saskatchewan’s provincial government over how the authorities will share costs of remediating an abandoned uranium mine.

Ottawa released a statement of defence on Friday, which read the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) – the company hired by the province to do the work at the Gunnar mine – initially presented cost-effective measures to clean the site.

The feds greenlit that proposal, but costs went up and rather than the original estimate of approximately $24 million, the price tag is expected to be around $280 million.

The court document said, “throughout the environmental assessment process, the SRC, as an agent for Saskatchewan, deviated repeatedly and in significant ways from the remediation plan set out in the initial report and therefore from the agreement itself.”

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In the initial agreement, both governments were set to split the $24 million cost equally.

The province launched its lawsuit last November claiming costs went up because it was following the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) regulations.

The changes mean Saskatchewan has now put $135 million into the site on Lake Athabasca’s north shore while the feds have only chipped in $1.13 million.

“Back in 2006 – (the original agreement) said in black and white – that if costs were to escalate beyond the $24-some million, as split both ways, there had to be discussions,” Saskatchewan Energy Minister Bronwyn Eyre said.

She added the CNSC is satisfied with all of the steps the province has taken to remediate the Gunnar mine.

“On penalty of fine, we have been told, ‘Keep doing the work. Keep doing the work.’ And Natural Resources Canada hasn’t paid us for the work that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has ordered us to do,” Eyre said.

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Global News reached out to Natural Resources Canada, but it declined to comment with the matter before the courts.

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