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CNSC Restricts Radioactive Tritium Gas at Shield Source

Small but significant victory against the opportunistic marketing of radioactive waste products from nuclear reactors

by SAGESafe and Green Energy PeterboroughGordon EdwardsCCNRCanadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

Peter Elder, for the CNSC promoting nuclear energy
Peter Elder, for the CNSC promoting nuclear energy
These people appear not to worry about unnecessary exposures to atomic radiation
These people appear not to worry about unnecessary exposures to atomic radiation
oh look, flowers.
oh look, flowers.
 
Something to celebrate. It is a small but significant victory.
 
On the morning of April 11, four groups -- Safe and Green Energy (SAGE-- Peterborough), Sierra Club Canada, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County, and the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility -- held a press conference opposing the relicensing of the tritium-light manufacturing facility, Shield Source Inc. (SSI). The facility has been routinely releasing large amounts of radioactive tritium into the air, contaminating the local environment around the Peterborough airport.
 

That evening, a well-attended public meeting was held in Peterborough by SAGE to inform residents of the basic facts about tritium, a radioactive variety of hydrogen which forms radioactive water molecules and radioactive organic molecules of all kinds.  It is a dangerous waste byproduct of all nuclear reactors, but the Canadian CANDU reactors produce 30 to 100 times more tritium (per unit of electrical energy generated) than other reactor designs such as those operating in the USA.

 
Over the next two days -- April 12-13 -- it was discovered that the actual tritium emissions from SSI were at least five to nine times higher than reported to the nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).  It became clear that actual radioactive emissions had been more than twice the maximum emission limits specified in the current SSI licence. (Those limits are very permissive, allowing up to 500 trillion becquerels of tritium to be released in any given year -- a greater amount than is emitted from any of the individual CANDU nuclear power plants now operating.)
 
Accordingly, Joseph F. Castrilli of the CanadianEnvironmental Law Association -- the legal counsel for SAGE -- wrote to CNSC to demand that SSI be directed to cease operations immediately, and that the relicensing hearings be postponed to allow for CNSC staff to re-analyze the corrected data and reconsider its advice to the CNSC Commissioners.  Additional time would also be required to allow intervenors to respond before any public reconsideration of SSI's licence can be undertaken.
 
 
Yesterday, April 24, we received news from the CNSC that the planned SSI relicensing hearing scheduled for May 2 has been cancelled.  And that Shield Source Inc. will not be allowed to process tritium in the meantime. This is a small victory.  And it allows the four groups to cultivate support for a principled position (1) against the opportunistic marketing of radioactive waste products from nuclear reactors and (2) in favor of the strict enforcement of the most fundamental principal of radiation  protection as enunciated in 1977 by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR): that ALL unnecessary exposures to atomic radiation must be prevented, and that ALL unavoidable exposures to atomic radiation must be justified by benefits accruing to those people who are so irradiated.
 
 
 
Gordon Edwards

 

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