Tritium is a serious hazard in Canada, requiring urgent action by the public and legislators alike. On this website you will find scientific documents, media reports, personal stories and fact sheets. You can also meet our advisory board in the “About TAP” section and download tools for taking action such as a municipal resolution aimed at stopping the release of tritium into drinking water supplies and a petition on phasing out tritium exit signs.
We welcome your questions and comments.
Sr. Rosalie Bertell, GNSH, Ph. D, an internationally recognized environmental epidemiologist, cancer researcher and public health advocate, died June 14, 2012, at age 83 in Saint Mary Medical Center, Langhorne, PA, in the 54th year of her religious life.
Dr. Bertell entered the field of cancer research at Roswell Park Memorial Institute, Buffalo in the 1970s. What started there grew into a lifetime devoted to research, writing, public speaking andadvocacy work on the effects of low-level radiation on human health.
Prior to founding the International Institute of Concern for Public Health in Toronto, Canada in 1984, she was an Energy/Public Health specialist at the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice in Toronto for four years. Sister traveled the globe, researching and advising ways of dealing with the chemical and nuclear hazards which endanger the environment and erode the health of people worldwide until shortly before her death.
Dear Friends and Colleagues of Rosalie Bertell,
It is with sadness that I’m writing to inform you that our dear Sister Rosalie died early this morning, June 14, 2012, after a week or so in the hospital with severe respiratory distress due to advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Despite her illness, she remained in good spirits and most interested in all of the works of justice she strove to support throughout her life right to the end. She died very peacefully.
Her funeral Mass will be here at our Motherhouse Chapel on Monday, June 17th at 10 a.m.
We will be remembering all of you as well as Sister Rosalie in our prayers that day, along with all the people who were victims of nuclear disasters and the many other societal ills that were the concerns of her heart and her life’s work at the International Institute of Concern for Public Health.
Sister Julia C. Lanigan, GNSH, President, Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart
The transcript of the January 2011 mid-term review by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission of the operating license for Shield Source Incorporated (SSI) contains interesting verbal exchanges on the subject of tritium in apples from trees near SSI. According to the transcript, crabapples in a tree located 220 meters northeast from SSI question tested in 2010 contained over 2500 Becquerels per liter of tritium, compared to a normal background level of around 2 Becquerels per liter. Also of serious concern, apples 4.45 km north of SSI on Brealey Drive in Peterborough have consistently shown over 200 Becquerels per liter of tritium.
These findings are a warning sign that tritium contamination is widespread around SSI. However, CNSC staff do not see it that way. They state, for the record, that something unusual about apples causes them to concentrate tritium more than other types of vegetation. To quote from the transcript:
“We did observe as well that apples have this unique characteristic of having fairly high tritium concentrations even far away from some facilities and this is a subject of — will be the subject of some future research efforts to look at how apples are behaving this way. “
The CNSC is mandated to protect Canadians from radioactive pollution. Yet, CNSC staff repeatedly fall short in this regard. They seem unable to understand that tritium gas, which SSI releases from its stack, is readily oxidized to radioactive water, spreads throughout the environment and is incorporated into all organisms living nearby – including humans. Please see the tritium primer on this website for more on this.
In a recent intervention filed with the CNSC, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility presents a strong case against licensing of Peterborough-based tritium light factory, Shield Source Incorporated. CCNR points out that tritium is a radioactive waste byproduct of CANDU nuclear reactors which should be carefully isolated from the environment and living organisms. Instead,tritium extracted from Ontario reactors is being sold to SSI and incorporated into self-luminous devices, the manufacture of which results in chronic radioactive pollution of local air, water, soil and foodstuffs due to the inability of the SSI facility to handle this radio-toxic substance without spilling large quantities into the surrounding environment.
A PDF version of the three-page CCNR intervention is available here .
When Shield Source Incorporated (SSI), a Peterborough, Ontario-based manufacturer of tritium lights, applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in 2009 for a renewal of its operating license, Dr. Ole Hendrickson of Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County pointed out the absurdity of SSI’s “derived release limit” for tritium gas (HT) in the following statement:
“CNSC has currently set the derived release limit for HT from SSI at 3.40E+19 Bq/year (3.4 x 1010 GBq/a). This is over 200 times higher than the total global natural tritium production rate, and more than ten times the total world steady state natural inventory of tritium. (emphasis added)
Each year during the past five years, in theory, SSI could have emitted more than ten times the world’s current natural tritium inventory. Had they done so, tritium levels in rainfall, and in every water body in the world, would have risen several hundred-fold, reaching levels exceeding those measured at the peak of nuclear weapons testing in 1963.
During preparations for intervention in the upcoming licensing hearing for SSI, the Peterborough-based citizen’s group SAGE has learned that soil tritium concentrations at the base of SSI’s stack exceeded 1.5 million Bq/l . This is eerily similar to what happened at SRB Technologies in Pembroke several years ago where groundwater remains contaminated as a result and the stack area is surrounded by a fence.
In the case of SSI, there is no signage or any indication of the tritium hazard. Unbelievably there is a picnic table right beside the stack. Read more in the SAGE intervention for the upcoming hearing at the CNSC on May 2, 2012.
Dr. Gordon Edwards and Dr. Linda Harvey, international experts on the risks of nuclear energy and health effects of radiation, will be presenting their perspective on the hazards of radioactive tritium, specifically in regard to the current federal relicensing process for Shield Source Incorporated (SSI), located at the Peterborough airport.
This important public event organized by Safe And Green Energy (SAGE) Peterborough will be held Wednesday, April 11th, 7:00 pm at the George Street United Church located at the corner of George Street and McDonnel Street. The event titled “Tritium and the Quality of Life In Peterborough” is free and all are welcome.