Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sister Rosalie Bertell Ph.D. A giant in the struggle to illuminate our hearts and minds

June 24th, 2012 No comments

We all know that we have lost a giant with the passing of Sister Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D.

I knew of Rosalie Bertell’s work at the Roswell Park Memorial Institute where she first gained invaluable insights into the manner in which ionizing radiation degrades the health of all and impairs the intelligence of very young children.

I was lucky enough to go with Rosalie on a trip to Korea to visit the communities where the CANDU nuclear reactors are located, seeing at first hand her compassionate heart and her scientific mind working in seamless harmony.

To me, she is a trailblazer in the practice of Science and Mathematics in the Public Interest — something the human community sorely needs if we are to survive our own technologies.

It is pitiful to see scientists and engineers allowing themselves to be shackled in jobs where their conscience is anaesthetized, their voices are stilled, and their actions are severely limited because they have sold their services to a corporation, a government agency, or military establishment.

Rosalie saw that science has to be put at the service of humanity and that scientific language has to be demystified so we can all understand the magnitude of the stakes and the enormity of what we are doing to earth’s living systems.

Scientific thought devoid of compassion, concern and action– for the good of humanity and all life on earth — is not only sterile, but rapidly becomes enormously destructive.

 May Rosalie rest in peace, but may her spirit remain very much alive and active in the world, because we need it — we need her– so much.

 Gordon Edwards

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Notice Re: the passing of Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., GNSH

June 14th, 2012 No comments

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

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Tritium essential to construction of nuclear weapons

May 26th, 2012 No comments

From the Federation of American Scientists, Special Weapons Primer, Weapons of Mass Destruction (

“Tritium ( 3 H) is essential to the construction of boosted-fission nuclear weapons. A boosted weapon contains a mixture of deuterium and tritium, the gases being heated and compressed by the detonation of a plutonium or uranium device. The D-T mixture is heated to a temperature and pressure such that thermonuclear fusion occurs. This process releases a flood of 14 MeV neutrons which cause additional fissions in the device, greatly increasing its efficiency.

“Tritium is rare in nature because of its 12.4-year half-life. It is produced by cosmic radiation in the upper atmosphere where it combines with oxygen to form water. It then falls to earth as rain, but the concentration is too low to be useful in a nuclear weapons program. Most tritium is produced by bombarding 6Li [ 6 Li(n, a) 3 H] with neutrons in a reactor; it is also produced as a byproduct of the operation of a heavy-water-moderated reactor when neutrons are captured on the deuterons present.

“Tritium can be stored and shipped as a gas, a metal hydride (e.g., of titanium) or tritide, and trapped in zeolites (hydrated aluminum silicate compounds with uniform size pores in their crystalline structure). Stainless-steel cylinders with capacities up to 5.6 ‘ 10 7 GBq (1.5 MCi) of tritium gas are used for transportation and storage and must be constructed to withstand the additional pressure which will build up as tritium gradually decays to 3 He.

“All five declared nuclear weapon states must have the underlying capability to manufacture and handle tritium, although the United States has shut down its production reactors due to safety considerations. Canada manufactures tritium as a byproduct of the operation of CANDU reactors. (emphasis added) In principle, limited amounts of tritium could be made in any research reactor with the ability to accept a target to be irradiated.

          Sources and Methods

  • Adapted from - Nuclear Weapons Technology Militarily Critical Technologies List (MCTL) Part II: Weapons of Mass Destruction Technologies”

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility opposes SSI license

April 10th, 2012 No comments

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 .

CNSC staff recommend a new 5-year license for SRBT

May 26th, 2010 Comments off

SRB Technologies has applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a new five-year license to process tritium at its manufacturing facility in Pembroke Ontario, site of the worst environmental tritium contamination in Canada owing to the SRB’s past activities. 

CNSC staff recommends that the Commission grant SRB a licence to discharge tritium in amounts up to 448 trillion becquerels per year through its stacks and 200 billion becquerels per year into the municipal sewer system.

At a one-day public hearing on May 19th intervenors included Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County, The First Six Years, the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, Prevent Cancer Now,  and the Council of Canadians. Many concerns and problems were highlighted, for example: serious groundwater pollution, proximity to residential neighbourhoods, radioactive waste disposal issues and funding for decommissioning.

If CNSC follows its usual pattern, a decision to approve this license application will be announced in the late afternoon on June 30th, the day that SRB’s current licence expires, and the day before the Canada Day holiday.

Canada loosens regulations for waste tritium lights

May 24th, 2010 Comments off

At a time when radioactive tritium from waste tritium lights is showing up in landfill leachate all over the world and regulators in other countries are grappling with how to keep waste tritium lights out of landfills, Canada’s regulators have loosened regulations for disposal of these toxic devices.

Recent amendments to the Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices Regulations eliminated the requirement for a recall procedure for expired tritium lights that are, of course, still radioactive. There is now no requirement that tritium light manufacturers accept the return of discarded tritium lights of their own manufacture unless this requirement is now incorporated directly in a CNSC licence. In addition to relieving manufacturers of the financial burden of receiving waste lights as radioactive materials, this change to the Regulations increases the likelihood that purchasers of tritium lights will abandon these radioactive devices in ordinary landfills, even in jurisdictions such as the United States where this practice is not permitted.

For further details see letter to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission from the Canadian Environmental Law Association on behalf of Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County.

TAP asks “How do these changes enhance the protection of the health and safety of the Canadian public? How do these changes enhance the protection of the environment? If they do not enhance either, then why were these changes made?”

Virtually every commercial reactor in the U.S. leaking tritium

May 24th, 2010 Comments off

A former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission official now working for the Union of Concerned Scientists was quoted recently in a Vermont newspaper stating that virtually every commercial reactor in the country was leaking tritium, not the two-dozen plus number usually used by the NRC

Speaking at a meeting of the New England Coalition, David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer who at one time was a member of the Vermont Public Oversight Panel, said

“Virtually every nuclear plant in the U.S. has reported leaks and many have reported many leaks, and no one knows how many leaks have not yet been found.”

Lochbaum credited citizen action groups, such as the New England Coalition, for raising the public awareness and putting pressure on government and federal regulators to pay attention to the radioactive tritium leak at the Vermonk Yankee nuclear plant which was shut down by the Vermont Senate in February of this year.

For the full article, please see the Rutland Herald article here.

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Open letter from Pembroke resident to CNSC President

May 17th, 2010 Comments off

May 17 2010

Open letter to Dr. Michael Binder, President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

CNSC staff recently produced a series of research studies on tritium called the Tritium Studies Project. Six of the reports are completed and available on the CNSC website (CNSC Open House: Tritium Studies Project April 28, 2010).

I have a special interest in these reports. Tritium in the community of Pembroke (my home town) began increasing in 1990 following the arrival of a facility that manufactures and recycles tritium filled exit signs and gun-sights. From a review of the CNSC reports I see that Pembroke now has the dubious distinction of being the “Tritium Capital of Canada.” Read more…

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Welcome visitors

May 16th, 2010 Comments off

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.

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Tritium on Tap report

November 20th, 2009 Comments off

The Sierra Club of Canada has released a new report on tritium in Canadian drinking water. The report is entitled “Tritium on Tap”. It documents the massive quantities of radioactive tritium released into drinking water sources by the nuclear industry in Canada on a routine basis.

A copy of the report is available for downloading in the documents section of this website and at the Sierra Club of Canada site.