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Cleanup of Ontario's Largest Mid-Canada Line Radar Site

Archived Backgrounder

Cleanup of Ontario's Largest Mid-Canada Line Radar Site


Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Ontario is cleaning up the largest of the 16 Mid-Canada Line radar sites in the Far North over the next three years.

History of the Mid-Canada Line

  • At the height of the Cold War in the mid-1950s, the Department of National Defence built 98 radar sites across Canada. Fourteen of the 16 sites in Ontario are located along the coasts of Hudson Bay and James Bay in the Far North boreal region of Ontario.
  • Known as the Mid-Canada Line, the purpose of the radar line was to provide early warning of attacks by air.
  • The Ontario sites were not used by the Department of National Defence after the mid-1960s, and ownership of the land was transferred to Ontario.
  • Derelict buildings, radar towers, fuel tanks, metal drums and a variety of other equipment and debris remain at the sites, as well as toxic materials.

Site 500

  • Cleanup of Site 500 is a major project expected to cost approximately $41 million dollars.
  • Site 500 is comprised of a main site, four smaller adjacent sites (also known as "doppler" sites) and includes:
    • 11 major buildings, such as a gymnasium, mess hall, barracks, operations building, airport hangar and tower
    • 17 derelict vehicles
    • an estimated 50,000 empty fuel drums.

First Nations

  • The province will provide training and job opportunities to First Nations people and businesses during the cleanup.
  • Ontario has signed a one-year agreement worth $3 million with Winisk 500 Corporation, a First Nation business, to do general clean-up work at Site 500.
  • The province has also signed an agreement directly with Weenusk First Nation for it to provide and operate a remote base camp facility for the Site 500 clean-up. This is a three-year contract worth approximately $8 million.

Other Mid-Canada Projects

  • Ontario is leading an $85-million, six-year plan to clean up 16 sites that are contaminated with toxic materials, littered with debris and derelict buildings.
  • In 2009, two Mid-Canada Line sites -- Site 060 along the rail line to Moosonee and Site 070 near the town of Ramore -- were cleaned up. Almost 50,000 metric tonnes of contaminated soil has been removed and the sites were successfully restored.
  • Ontario is working with First Nations communities on the cleanup of Mid-Canada sites, including Fort Severn, the Weenusk First Nation at Peawanuck, Attawapiskat, Taykwa Tagamou Nation, Moose Cree and the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council.

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