Elliot Lake over the past sixty years has had two unofficial titles. The first is “Jewel in the Wilderness,” and the second is “the Uranium Capital of the World.” In the 1950s, the U.S. push for uranium production prompted exploitation of local uranium deposits. Very quickly a town sprang up where before there was none. For over 40 years, Elliot Lake was a significant producer of uranium. All through the period of exploitation, and especially after, Elliot Lake promoted itself as a beautiful destination for nature-lovers and outdoor adventurers. Today, the town continues to reconcile its two legacies as a paradoxically thoroughly modern wilderness, trying to become a destination for ecotourism while clinging to its nuclear role. But can a place be both nuclear and natural? Can it be thoroughly polluted with radiation and naturally beautiful at the same time? And if so—if Canadians can accept it as such—what does Elliot Lake say about the Canada’s acceptance or denial of its nuclear history?
Today, upon first glance, one might not know that Elliot Lake was the leading producer of Canadian uranium in the 1950s and 1960s. It is a small town, roughly 20 miles north of Lake Huron, reached by driving north off of the main highway between Sudbury and Sault St. Marie and up a sharp, winding road. Trees crowd around the road, until they clear around the town’s namesake, which is Elliot Lake itself. When viewing the lake, it is easy to see how the town received its first unofficial title. It is a large sapphire-coloured lake surrounded by rock outcroppings and trees, and the mining infrastructure—mills, headframes, tailings ponds, dams—are mostly gone.
Just a few decades ago, however, this landscape supported a lucrative uranium industry. By 1959, the mines produced 74% of Canada’s total refined uranium, or yellowcake. Due to this process, millions of tons of waste accumulated because during the process of milling 99.8% of the ore became waste. This waste was left to pollute the surrounding environment unregulated for decades. It raised the water’s acidity and released harmful radioactivity.
This pollution affected not only the people who inhabited the newfound town of Elliot Lake, but also those who had inhabited the land for over five hundred years: the Serpent River First Nation, or Anishinaabe. Although pamphlets from the 1950s and 1960s liked to portray it as such, the land was not an empty place that intrepid pioneers settled and tamed; it was traditional hunting, trapping, and fishing ground. Elliot Lake was not “in the wildnerness;” it was in a place with significant, long-term human use. As Lianne Leddy shows in her work, the uranium industry and concomitant sulphuric acid plant affected the lives of the Serpent River First Nation. Industry brought short-term employment gains and long-term environmental consequences.
The Canadian government did not address the problems of pollution from the mines until the late 1970s, after the mines had gone through a few boom and bust cycles, and the population of the town had contracted and rebounded. In September 1978, the Atomic Energy Control Board—the body that oversaw nuclear matters in Canada— organized an Advisory Panel on Tailings, which acknowledged the tailings problem in the country and recommended both the remediation and review of the problem.
But the response to these recommendations was slow and the government was hardly involved. Instead, Rio Algom and Denison mines, which operated mines in Elliot Lake until the 1990s, took over the problem of decommissioning the mines and reclaiming the land when their last sites shut down. This response contrasted with that of Canada’s closest neighbour, the United States, which federally organized and carried out the Uranium Mine Tailings Radiation Control Act from 1978 onward. The reason that the companies took responsibility for the tailings is unclear, though one employee told me that they decided to “do the right thing.” During the entire period of operation of the uranium mines there was no substantial public outcry or national attention to the problems of radiation pollution.
Then came the question of what to do with the town. Since the 1970s, there had been some revival efforts. Officials attempted to make Elliot Lake into a college town, and then tried to make it a centre for research on the effects of uranium mining on humans—a woefully understudied topic in Canada. Ultimately, none of these efforts were very successful, and by the 1990s, Elliot Lake needed a new plan.
One option was tourism, a path that was quite successful for the one-time uranium mining town of Moab, Utah. Also claiming the title of “Uranium Capital of the World” in the 1950s, Moab is now advertised as a destination for mountain bikers, campers, rafters, and paddle boarders. I have spoken to many people who travelled to Moab for such purposes with no idea of the town’s radioactive legacy. In fact, Moab has seemingly erased its uranium-fuelled past. The U.S. association with its radioactive heritage, it seems, is not a positive one. Instead, it is something to be expunged and ignored if a town wants to reinvent itself as a place for nature explorers. There, nature and nuclear are too paradoxical.
Elliot Lake does not ignore its nuclear history. The history of mining has been embraced, albeit in a sanitized manner, but not erased. Monuments to the miners stand on the picturesque banks of Elliot Lake in the center of the town. The statues show men wearing headlamps holding the hand of a little girl or staring sadly at the names of those who lost their lives in the mines; they are romantic images of the bygone era. There is also a small museum about the mines and the town has published a few books on the miners and their memories. The Anishinaabe narrative has also, at times, been incorporated into the tourist draw, with Elliot Lake promoters trying to attract people by appropriating Serpent River oral histories and repackaging them as ghost stories and legends. (These instances led to even more questions about how the land can be wild, nuclear, and have a long history of human use at the same time.)
But there are other non-formal and less idealistic monuments to the town’s past, too. Signs dot the landscape warning about the possibility of radioactive material. No camping, hunting, or fishing is allowed, and they warn to walk the ground at one’s own risk. For someone who likes to fish, this sign might mean a minor inconvenience and the need to redraw her Saturday morning plans. For the Serpent River First Nation, this warning means losing land that it has used for sustenance for centuries. When I asked Denison about the effects for the Anishinaabe when I visited the town, I was assured this was not a problem.
Furthermore, Elliot Lake is trying to preserve its nuclear legacy in a sense. It is currently one of the sites in the running to become a repository of nuclear waste through Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization. This move is also not novel. Both Nevada and New Mexico have attempted to capitalize on their nuclear histories to attract more money through waste storage at Yucca Mountain and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, respectively. But neither of these places have refashioned themselves as a wildlife destination and retirement community. Perhaps, then, the closest comparison to the unique pairing of nuclear and natural is Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia. (Kakadu also has a large Aborigine population, and though there are many important comparisons among the Serpent River First Nation, Australian Aborigines, and countless other indigenous populations of which I am acutely aware, it is not something that I can address adequately here). It is a nature reserve and traditional home of indigenous groups that surrounds a highly productive uranium mine, though it is important to note that the reserve preceded the mine.
So what do Australia and Canada have in common that allows them to view nuclear and natural as not necessarily incompatible? Why do Canadians not recoil from the radioactive effects of the mines when the Americans view it as something to be ashamed of? The difference lies in the Canada’s seemingly peaceful nuclear history. Canada, perhaps, has always viewed itself as a non-nuclear country. The government has never had nuclear weapons, it has never dropped a bomb, it did not go “eyeball-to-eyeball” threatening the destruction of the planet. In Canada, no nuclear plants have melted down, and no nuclear tests have sickened countless people.
Perhaps Canada is in denial about the danger of its uranium because it has seemed to play such an innocuous historical role—though of course this perception is false as, to name one instance, Canada contributed uranium to Fat Man and Little Boy. Moreover, Canada’s uranium pollutes air, water, and soil in the same way that American uranium does. Yet the Canadian government did not coalesce to clean up uranium. Private companies did.
Rio Algom and Denison relocated tailings, buried them, or submerged them in water. The companies declared Elliot Lake a remarkable success story, and a great place for swimming, fishing, or a leisurely retirement. The mining companies gave the residential properties to private companies to sell to retirees, and so the housing prices are the least expensive in the province. The local government hopes that retirees will sell their homes in southern Ontario, move up north, and have enough money to fly to Florida during the bitterly cold winters. All mine and mill buildings have been taken down. On the once heavily polluted Quirke Lake, there is a private beach for members of a certain retirement community, but aside from that, the large lake is quiet. I was told fish populations are rebounding, and the water is safe for swimming should I want to. Walking trails wind in and out of the forests which become especially beautiful in the early fall drawing people to come see the trees’ vibrant colours. Yet though the pollution is invisible it is there.
Elliot Lake is still clinging to its dual image as a place both wild and nuclear at the same time. Canadians must decide how the acceptance of these two ideas as compatible keeps us from confronting our nuclear history and ignoring the federal government’s role in polluting and then abandoning Elliot Lake.
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I found the post interesting, particularly since Elliot Lake is a place whose economic dynamics I have thought about on numerous occasions.
One thing that might be worth exploring is the role of the town’s size in creating a retirement community/tourism dynamic that hasn’t happened in other former mining towns. Mining towns go boom bust frequently and northern Ontario is filled with places that didn’t survive the bust cycle as well as Elliot Lake. It was also a lot larger than Wawa or Manitowadge, which left it with more amenities that retirees like (hospital, movie theatre, bigger grocery stores, etc). Along with the high quality housing, it could attract people in a way that equally scenic smaller former mining towns couldn’t. I remember the last time I was there, in the late 90s, there were billboards coming into town advertising condos from $10,000 and townhouses from $22,000, since most of the locals had vacated fairly new houses when the mines closed. Having good quality, cheap housing and those amenities made it really attractive for retirees.
Good luck with the project.
That is a great point, and one I certainly need to think about some more. While writing the piece, I was thinking about what makes old mining towns so desirable. Aside from their history, I think it is because they feel close to nature, but not too close — that is, without giving up the many amenities of living in a town. Thinking about the size of Elliot Lake in comparison with other mining towns is something I will absolutely consider. Are there any good citations about Wawa or Manitowadge you can recommend?
Thanks for the feedback!
Hi, I have written a book about another Canadian mining town from this same era. It is called Sun Dogs and Yellowcake and will come out in September. I would be interested in speaking with you.
I don’t know of any citations about the other towns that tried to follow Elliot Lake’s turn to a retirement/tourism community. My sense of them mostly comes from remembering advertising campaigns in the early to mid aughts, which included highway billboards throughout northern Ontario. They were clearly modelling the vision on Elliot Lake and using federal or provincial economic development money to promote it. They also seem to have failed despite Wawa, in particular, being in one of the most spectacularly scenic parts of Canada.
In 1957 I was an teenager living in a small Western Ontario village looking for adventure and spent time in Elliot Lake, working in the mill at the Quirke mine. I can assure you that was quite a 3 month learning experience for an 18 year old kid during, but mostly after work.
If you have any interest in writing to me in more detail about your experiences, please let me know. I would love to hear them. From what I know about Elliot Lake in 1957, that must have been quite an adventure.
I have concerns on uranium is toxic to water we drink here in snowdrift ( lutselke) now is next door to uranium mine on stark lake east back in. Late 1955 to. 1960 .run by Bill William Moffat. Please let me know if you find anything on that thank you
I have not come across anything about the site because my work focuses on Ontario. But perhaps some one who sees your post here will be able to provide you with more information. I looked up the mine you mentioned, and it’s often referred to as the Stark Lake Exploration Site and its in the Northwest Territories. (I’m sure you know this, but just in case anyone else wants to look it up.) I will also keep an eye out for information on the site in my future research, and I will let you know if I find anything.
Hi Robynn and Larry:
I found a little information in my files on Stark Lake. It comes from Ryan Silke’s encyclopedic operational history of mines in NWT. It’s a short entry–it was a short-lived mine–and I can send it along if you like.
Thanks for looking! I would like to see it, so please send it when you have a chance.
I would just like to know to the best of your knowledge, is it a safe place to live, eat, hunt?
I found this a great read, however I find myself asking would it be safe to live there for a substantial period of time?
Also, what lakes lakes in the area have been affected by the tailings? I’ve fished alot up that way and was wondering would they be safe to eat and how long would a study need to take place to gain this information, if needed? thank you
That’s a really tricky question question to answer and it depends on many different things. Also, I am not a biologist or epidemiologist, so please keep that in mind.
For the latest official word on whether it is safe to eat/hunt/forage you can contact Denison Environmental (https://www.denisonenvironmental.com), the company in charge of remediating the area. Last I spoke with them, they told me the area was in relatively good condition, and they release periodical reports on the issue. My advice would be to read these reports somewhat critically. There are no good studies, as far as I am aware, about exposure levels of people who are primarily using the landscape for sustenance. For historical reports, there are pollution studies at the Archives of Ontario in Toronto.
My work is primarily historical, but shortlist of the lakes affected in the 1960s (just doing a quick scan of some archival documents) were Quirke, Stollery, Williams, May, Hough, Pink Dragon, and Half Moon. Some of the contamination was radioactive, and some was altered pH levels. Many of these lakes have been treated, but again, I would encourage you to do some research about the risks associated with the potential exposure you might experience in Elliot Lake. Your risk, of course, depends on your age/sex/whether you are pregnant, etc.
Many people (including people living there) would say it is entirely safe. But, medically, the effects of long-term, low-level exposure to radiation are still rather poorly understood.
As for conducting a study, it would not take long to examine the flesh of fauna for contamination (perhaps Denison has done this already) but understanding how much one can safely eat in combination with different exposures is a different question altogether.
i lived there during the eighties and have had no side affects, great place to live, we would all return if we could.
I was born in elliot lake in 1980 and lived there for 10 years at which time we moved to sault ste marie I believe because of a job opportunity for my father. I absolutely LOVE the town of elliot lake and even tho I was very young when I moved still have always felt a great connection to the town and feel it is my HOME. I will explain where that began and it is that my 94 year old nana (grandmother) came to elliot lake maybe 60 years ago.. in the 40s.. as a war bride from England… she made a home in elliot lake and lived there for a very long time.. having three children.. my aunt..uncle and mother born in 56 .. my mother the youngest met my father in the small beautiful town when they were 12 and 13 yrs old and we’re married in their twenties and had me.. my parents both worked full time.. dad spending some of his adult career in Denison mine and my grandfather was a boss there..he’s since passed in the 90s of pancreatic cancer.. and my Nana was my caregiver in the day.. nana and I would spend alot of time enjoying the outside and exploring the wilderness.. she owned a cottage on Dunlop lake where we spent alot of time (all of our family) swimming and fishing and picking berries.. but I have very clear memories of the TAILINGS that were spoken of here and as a small girl remember picking blueberries on the old mine road just feet away from these dried up coloured layerd sand dunes.. I didn’t understand what I was looking at at the time .. i remember feeling that it seemed sad and i still feel that now as i recall the way a dried up lake looked..I got older and realized the cause it still gives me the creeps lol.. in a way. For lack of a better term. Anyways.. im not a biologist or environmentalist or scientist.. living there and having family live there healthy and happy for over 60 years… swimming and fishing and drinkingthe water and enjoying the natural elements of the town.. it’s so beautiful and peaceful I hope to eventually call elliot lake my home again someday maybe at my retirement age.. something about the town calls me back.. I am intrigued by the info that I read here tho obviously and am interested in what is being questioned and hope to learn more I just hate the thought of seeing elliot lake as an unsafe place to live and hope if there proves to be issues that it will be taken seriously and corrected or the town compensated
I AM ALMOST RETIRED AND HAVE WORKED FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO FOR 20 YEARS. BEFORE THIS I WORKED FOR 23 YEARS IN MANITOUWADGE IN THE BUSH AS A TREE FALLER FOR THE MILL IN MARATHON. I HAVE RESEARCHED THE NORTH SHORE AS I WANT TO RETURN NORTH FOR MY RETIREMENT BUT HAVE DECIDED ON ELLIOT LAKE BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING LEFT IN MANITOUWADGE IT IS A GHOST TOWN NOW, ELLIOT LAKE WILL OFFER ME MORE! THE CHANCES OF ME GETTING CANCER FROM THE URAINIUM MINNING THERE IS NILL AS ILL PROLLY DIE OF SOMETHING ELSE FIRST AS IM 63…LOL
I lived in Elliot Lake from 1957-1963 as a child/teenager in a family of five people. Three out of five people in the family have had cancer.
My daughter who never lived in Elliot Lake has had thyroid cancer. My exposure to radioactive material may have been a contributing factor.
I highly doubt elliot lake is the cause think u better read up on cancer more
Lived in Elliot Lake through the 60’s and 70’s.I can clearly remember climbing the sloping sides of the tailing ponds then crossing them to go blueberry picking.I don’t glow in the dark and am still relatively healthy.
So is this town called Elliot lake not a safe place to live on your opinion
We used to fish Missisagi Bay near Blind River in the 60s and 70s. It was always fun to take a drive up to Elliot Lake, go through the uranium museum, drive up the high hill to the fire tower and have lunch in a restaurant (1 of few times on our trip). I remember looking down on the lakes with obviously weird colors from tailings. Then a uranium refinery opened in Blind River…and I wondered how any water contamination might affect the fish. The DNR used to put out a booklet every couple of years with reports on eating various types and sizes of fish from many of the fishing lakes. It talked about mercury contamination, but do not remember about radiation contamination. We also went up to Manitouwadge once and were so swamped by mosquitoes that we left.
Did the mining cease operation only because other places were more profitable or were the mines depleted? Is the refinery still operating?
Are there health reports about common health diagnoses and causes of death for Algoma areas? My Mother had 2 friends who lived and worked in campgrounds around Moab. Both died from lung cancer. Both of their doctors blamed the uranium mining and dusty environment that kept it stirred up in the air. Gorgeous area, but VERY different from Elliot Lake!
Susan — this is a difficult question and not one I think I can answer for anyone. I think it’s a personal decision that one has to make for herself, but I believe it should be an informed decision, which is why I write about it. I recommend reading as much as you can about uranium mining/Elliot Lake and then deciding whether you are comfortable with potential risks.
Norma — Thank you for sharing your recollections and personal experiences! Yes, the Blind River refinery is still in operation. The Elliot Lake mines closed primarily because they were no longer profitable. The deposits are massive but very low-grade, and so the uranium at Saskatchewan was a more economical option. There are no health reports that I am aware of about people who live (or lived) near uranium extraction sites. All health studies are of the miners themselves. Even if there were studies, it is an extremely difficult thing to study. It is hard to pin down with any certainty the link between radionuclides and cancer and the effects of long-term, low-level exposure to radon gas (the main thing one is dealing with when it comes to tailings) are poorly understood.
Can one eat the fish in the numerous lakes that surround the Elliot Lake area?
It’s a very personal decision and there is no clearcut answer. Risk associated with long-term, low-level exposure to radionuclides is still poorly understood.
If you would like to see the official reports from Denison Environmental, you can read about the reclamation work and current water quality at this link: https://www.denisonenvironmental.com/closed-mines/reports-and-presentations. I can tell you, historically, that mine companies and government officials often claimed the water was safe to drink and fish from even when levels of radium exceeded government standards. I would recommend also that you read the Serpent River First Nation publication This Is My Homeland for a counterpoint to official claims of water quality standards. There is also wonderful work on the history of Elliot Lake by scholar Lianne Leddy, and I wrote about contamination and regulation in a little more detail in a book called Mining North America.
I think, after you weigh the opposing views on the issue, you can better make your own decision.
If tailings contamination does concern you, this research will give you a better sense of which lakes were most contaminated, where the tailings are currently stored, and which lakes are located outside of the mine dump areas. If you look on Google map satellite view, you can see the tailings storage areas pretty clearly. They’re all still sitting there.
Let the old die there,as long as the rents are cheap! Real nice, no thanks
Thank you for the …..trith
Thanks a lot for this article as well as for your very interesting and considerate comments and replies.
I have become interested in information about Elliot Lake since the idea to spend the remaining years of my life in this quiet and picturesque place first came to my mind. It goes without saying that comparatively low rent played here also a very important if not a decisive role. When I travelled there in 2011 I certainly paid attention to the possible radiation/radioactive contamination presence due to the mines. However, at that point I did not plunge too deep in the subject. My radiometer, by the way, did not show any increased radiation level in the area or in the close vicinity of a decommissioned mine. Of course, I cannot be quite sure that I not being a specialist performed the measurements correctly enough.
Now your research provides your readers with more valuable information. May I ask you if you are planning to write more on this topic? It would be also very important to know more about indoor radon levels in Elliot Lake dwellings as according to some reports radioactive waste rock was once used in the construction of homes in Elliot Lake.
Once again, thank you very much.
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment about your experience. I am currently writing a dissertation about Elliot Lake in comparison with one uranium mining region in the United States and one in Russia. So far, I’ve published one article on my research in a book called Mining North America edited by John McNeill and George Vrtis, but I plan to publish more in the future. In the meantime, if you want to read more about Elliot Lake, Lianne Leddy and Laurel Sefton Macdowell have both written about it.
As far as I understand indoor radon problems in Elliot Lake, they are from natural radon in the rocks into which the houses were built and not from tailings. To my knowledge, tailings were not used in Elliot Lake for construction material (as was the case in some other mining regions in the United States, and near the uranium refinery in Port Hope, Ontario). If you’ve found information to the contrary, please share it!
The government addressed the radon problem in Elliot Lake and Port Hope in the late 1970s, but if you want to be on the safe side, you can test your home or have it professionally tested (more info here: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/environmental-workplace-health/reports-publications/radiation/radon-your-home-health-canada-2009.html). And keep in mind that radon in homes can affect houses that are nowhere near uranium mines.
Thank you so much for the sites with the information about radon in homes. I will also be reading what Lianne Leddy and Laurel Sefton Macdowell wrote on this problem. In fact, I have already seen and looked through MacDowell’s article ” The Elliot Lake Uranium Miners’ Battle to Gain Occupational Health and Safety Improvements, 1950–1980″.
Regarding construction material used in Elliot Lake’s houses I came across with this article: http://www.nuclear-risks.org/en/hibakusha-worldwide/elliot-lake.html where it is said that “radioactive waste rock was used in the construction of homes in Elliot Lake well into the 1970s”. I did not see any corroboration or refutation of this information so far.
I will be very much interested in reading your new research when it becomes available.
Here is an addition to the article I was referring to in connection with radon problem in Elliot Lake’s homes. First time I just failed to send you this link:
It says in particular:
“Since the town of Port Hope had been thoroughly contaminated with alpha- emitting radioactive substances, the Canadian nuclear authorities had to make a political decision back in 1975: What was an acceptable level for radioactive contamination in a private residence?
And so a standard for an “acceptable level” of radon contamination in a private home was set at about 20 times the normal background levels of radon, to guide the cleanup operations at Port Hope. Before long, that same standard was being used for the construction of whole subdivisions of new homes in Elliot Lake in the late 1970s. Radon levels in these new homes were so unacceptably high that fans had to be installed under the floorboards to blow the radon out of the house. Sometimes two fans had to be installed to bring the contamination levels down to the”acceptable” level”.
Maybe this publication will be of some interest for you. Thanks again
Thanks for passing these along! In the first article you posted, it looks like the author mistakenly says radon levels were high because of the use of waste rock. The second article does not specify why they were high. All of my sources say it was because homes were built into radioactive rock, not because mine or mill waste was used in construction. The result is still the same, though, regarding radon levels.
If Elliot lake is still polluted why do people want to live there? Are there statistics about cancer and other polluted illnesses in this area? Or is this being ignored? Sending retirees there without the knowledge of danger. Why does Quirke lake that heavily polluted, have a retiree beach? Is it ok for retirees? What about children and pets?
I would direct you to my answer to Greg above, which might help answer some of your questions.
There are no statistics about cancer among non-miners from this area, but there have been some other studies done in other areas. Here is a fairly recent (2011) article summarizing some of the most recent findings about people who live or have lived near uranium mines and mills: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/reveh.2011.26.issue-4/reveh.2011.032/reveh.2011.032.xml. Unfortunately, it is behind a paywall. But it’s a good summary if you can access it.
As for why people want to live there, it is an individual choice, and there are no straight answers on how safe or unsafe these places are.
I am considering the area for retirement. I will soon be 60 and cannot afford to live in the south, where housing costs are at least 100% of my income. Elliot Lake rents are affordable. They have all the amenities. However, I too, am looking for information on health risks … this has been an interesting read. That said, the incidence of cancers in the Golden Horseshoe area, are also huge … so maybe the risks are similar ??
Thanks for reading. I would point you to the discussions I had with Greg, Dmitry, and Mary above. The risks are fairly opaque still, so it’s a very personal decision. There are many claiming it’s completely safe and others refuting that claim. My best advice is to do some more reading and talk to people, while also keeping in mind the motives of the people you’re speaking to (e.g. those promoting Elliot Lake as a retirement community will want you to move there). This doesn’t discredit their opinion, it just helps you listen to them in a more critical manner and make an informed decision. But there is no easy answer.
So, what are the long term risks of radiation exposure to residents of Elliot Lake?
I’ve posted some answers about this above. Please see the responses to Dmitry, Mary, Greg, and Lynn. The long-term risks are unclear, but if you’re interested in learning more, I’ve posted some sources you might like to read through to understand some of the debates surrounding the risks.
Ur on crack
Oblivious to everything except there had been mining there once I lived in Elliot Lake for a year in the nineties, exposing my family, pets and horses to all you mention here. Back then I knew nothing of aquifers,, which prompted my internet search today, and/or how everything in nature is connected. Thank you for your comprehensive article. Please, please! Keep up the good work.
Thank you for reading, Carol! I’m glad you found it informative.
Interesting. I grew up with a lucite enclosed souvenir of the Algoma mine opening on my bedroom bookshelf: newspaper clipping, a piece of ore, liquid concentrate and yellowcake, a gift to my dad from somebody, an investor I presume. My brother has it: interested?
Grew up in the area, the talk was limit wild meat consumption.
Would like to retire in the area but am really having a hard time deciding because of the higher risk of cancer, not just there but across algoma. The health units have all of the stats, you can find the comparative info.
I would want to live out of town but that would put me on well water. I need to look into that. I have seen a thesis or two but haven,t read them yet but one would assume the water qualityto be suspect.
Wherever there is canadian shield you will find radon. We just sold a house in Wisconsin and had to install a mitigation system before we could sell. We paid a guy 1000 bucks to do it, we could have done it for 400 ourselves..easy to do. I had never heard of radon till we lived down there. I wondered why it seemed to be a non issue in ontario as I would think the levels would be higher due to the shield. They claim that high radon levels is like smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day,
Why are people moving there? I would think lack of knowledge, budget friendly, not caring and it is a pretty area. I am quite certain that info on the true extent of the pollution will ever be known .. since when has there been transparency in the mining industry.
So if I move there .. what will get me first .. environmental illness or old age?
I was thinking of visting Elliot Lake next month – Nov. 2019. When I read the history and found a report of the pollution at Elliot Lake, I had to inquire further. I sent the web site for the article to the retirement community operators and the Ontario Ministry of Housing. The next day the website is unavailable. Go figure. Residents of Elliot Lake, ignorance is bliss but not life enhancing. I wont be going anywhere near Elliot Lake.
I just moved here in Jan 2020 and already I awake at night to pee and feel nausea and a little dizzyness. My apt building may have been built using contaminated concrete but I am not sure. I have noticed numerous cracks in my 8 story building in my apt and in the stairwells and believe them to be caused by the same earthquake that brought down the mall. There does seem to be a strange attitude with some of the leading members which has made me suspicious. Maybe it is due to the high level of Mason “service clubs” but it all remains suspicious. When I first inquired here they said their was a choice of apts. but when I got here there was apparently only one left and if I didn’t like it I had to go away and return in Feb when a vacancy would become available. I have noticed that I am being followed and even blocked in at the gas station by an aggressive woman who appeared to be a CISIS type spook who I saw later driving around me. I am now suspecting that this place is a haven for undercover agents or a retirement center for different secret service types. I now believe that I was lied to by the big housing people and now I have a very unhappy buildoing manager who never smiles, is vert weird and doesn’t do what he says he will. The management people all said he was a very good guy but that was fake info. I spent all my money to locate here and now feel trapped and semi-helpless. The people above me make loud , very loud banging noises every night between 2-4 when they go to bed which I think is a mall functioning electric bed but I am afraid to mention it to the management. I also feel that my internet is being monitored by some sort of spy agency which is unnerving. The local drivers are too fast and ignorant to my ex-proffessional driving experience. There is very high snow banks blocking most intersections and driveways including vague intersections. People here drive too fast and even thought the speed limit is around 40k they push me alot. I am now fearing the worse .s my drinking water has a strange taste to it and I suspect a collusion between elected officials and the health board. I would suggest that if you are an alcoholic or weed addict, then you would do good here as the woman who gave me the “tour” showed us all the drinking palces as good recreational sources. Finally Bob Izumi the big fishing guy set up many fishing lodges and basically put this place on the map but then pulled out a few years ago and the suspicion was that the fish were polluted with radiation and he didn’t want any lawsuits. I have noticed a general type of people here who exhibit a low level IQ which typifies service club members. In conclusion, I am sorry that I believed the advertising that drew me here and feel cheated and betrayed.I am already planning my escape after only 2 weeks here but I will first let them redeem themselves by compensating me for this extraordinary evil undertaking and then helping me to leave. Sadly enough, I do know these Masonic type people and this may not turn out well for them or me. Eventually this will all resolve itself but I now fear personal damage from those who are now reading this and bad karma for them. Hopefully they will reimburse me and let me go with out a major fight in which they will definitely suffer the most. I am not threatening but only sharing. We met a very nice lady insurance company owner in Espanosa where my wife could work and i could consult with Domtar there and possible we could do better there. Here’s hoping. 🙂
Grata for your work. My friend and l are considering Elliott lake senior residence, dovyou think its safe to live and swim there?
Hello again from the person who wrote the long narrative posted above as from anonymous. I have lived here for one year now and I just reread my story from a year ago and wowwie, I was sure upset. Sorry to the Masons for imagining that you are anything less than perfect. I felt lied to and cheated so I was ranting but since then, I have found out that most of my complaints were real. However, my manager is not weird but just quiet and jaded from years of dealing with the elderly in various states of old-timers. The talk about retired spooks may or may not be accurate but that is my personal problem and sorry to involve the world. *Next, this place has many problems but the people who come here mostly seem nice if not lonely. When you come here you leave your friends behind and it is hard making new ones since most elderly people are a little suspicious of newcomers so be prepared to live a solitary life unless you are religious or a club member. As far as low dose radiation contaminated soil and buildings goes. it is true and many guys who worked here confirmed that since real dirt was in short supply, mine tailings were used for everything from landscaping to making cheap concrete for temporary workers, apartment buildings. An eyewitness told me that tailings are everywhere around here while another old miner dying from lung cancer told me he never heard of any problems around here. There in lies the big problem which denial and pride. The roads were leveled with it and most lawns are from radiated tailings. As a ex-horticulturalist, the first thing I noticed amiss once the 12 feet of snow melted was the terrible condition of most lawns. People water and fertilize, add manure and rototill but still they look mostly dead. Very few houses have good lawns with green grass and that was my first sign that the rumors were true BUT what to do? A lot of people leave here as fast as they came. Many others are selling out to much higher prices due to covid19 driving people from the cities. A lot of people have moved online businesses here by buying cheap homes or townhouses causing prices to nearly double in one year. Houses can sell in one day but few if any buyers know about radon gas in the basements etc. but they can sell out, make some money and move on. *Back to the radiation poisoning, it is here and will compound some pre-existing ailments eventually helping to cause deaths among seniors but what the heck, if you are going to die from stage 4 cancer, you might as well die where the scenery is beautiful, right? One lady told me that we all come here to die and we can’t accept the truth. Well, for me, I know most of the problems here now and honestly, I still might buy a home here and stay. There are a few new houses being built and I saw one with no basement and proper air filtration that I would be happy in. Oh well, the winds of change blew me here and in spite of a hard landing, I am starting to feel the love around here but who knows if that wild gypsy wind will blow me away down the road. In conclusion, this place is a good place to live with only a few problems