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Letter to Lisa Raitt

February 27th, 2009

Letter to Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources Canada- expressing disappointment about the fact that she did not recieve accurate information about tritium leaks and health impacts.

The Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Natural Resources Canada

February 27, 2009

Dear Minister Raitt:

Due to an oversight this correspondence was not sent to you on February 16 when it was sent to Mr. Pilkington.

I am very disappointed that you, as the responsible Minister, have not been given full and accurate information on this important subject.  Not only were the details of the spill and subsequent controlled releases not communicated to you in a clear and unequivocal manner, but the possible health impacts have also been misrepresented to you.

It is a well known fact in the medical community that there is no “safe threshold level” for any known carcinogen, and that includes radioactive materials such as tritium.  The number of cancers that may result from any given exposure is proportional to the population of people receiving that dose.

Thus a tritium contamination level that is considered small by some types of reckoning becomes more significant when millions of people are exposed to that small dose.  To say there is “no health concern” is simply to deny the fact that there is always a legitimate concern when carcinogens are ingested by large populations of people.

I would be happy to provide you with additional references on this point if it would be of use to you.  May I just refer you now to the US National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII Report (BEIR = Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation) which investigated and found no reliable scientific evidence to conclude that any level of exposure is “safe”, and a great deal of evidence to conclude the opposite: that any exposure level, no matter how small, if administered to a large enough population, will cause an increase in the incidence of cancer.

With my best wishes,

Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., President,
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.

Tritium Awareness Project