The Port Hope Area Initiative

Blog by Kanen Nixon

Hail and well met! I am Kanen Nixon, and I’m excited to share with you a little of what the days can be like at our office in the historic lakeside town of Port Hope, Ontario Canada. Here, my peers and I are working on North America’s largest radioactive waste remediation project, the Port Hope Area Initiative. It is a large-scale remediation of historic low-level radioactive waste that had been scattered throughout the town, originating from Port Hope’s old radium refinery. Our role is to conduct radiological characterization surveys on 4900 properties, essentially the entire town. This includes surveying inside every home, business, yard, park, factory, forest, etc. Our office employs over 40 people (including locals!) and we get to work with fellow Arcadians from all over Canada, the United States, and India!

Even a normal day of fieldwork makes for an engaging environment, especially since we are constantly dealing with the public. After all the equipment is prepped, we always start the day with a morning health and safety tailgate meeting. We all assemble in the same room and share our experiences in the field, reminders about upcoming events, various changes/updates about the project, and we always wrap it up with something fun! Out in the field our work environment frequently changes; sometimes we’re scanning a forest floor in the pleasant autumn wind, and sometimes we’re sampling vast halls of elegant mansions. We could be drilling for soil samples while surrounded by snow in below freezing weather or enjoying the companionship of our fellow colleagues while writing reports and analyzing samples in the office and lab. We are generally busy and frequently under pressure, but we are always happy collaborating with one another and between our different departments.

Most of us are coming into the workplace directly from school and find that Arcadis is giving us a positive and unique work experience. Many of young professionals here at our office express how glad they are to learn a plethora of skills through all our different project components, and put what we studied during our environmental schooling to use. We are learning how to become professionals both in the workplace and while interacting with the public. It’s easy to work together and share ideas because we are young adults from similar backgrounds, and we get to collaborate with other Arcadians. We often celebrate great accomplishments and important events together after work. Most importantly, because the office environment is usually positive, when working on this project we are doing more than just “working a job”: we are building our careers together.

The above is an amalgamation of the ideas and words of many techs of the Port Hope Field Office.

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