Home > Press Releases > “Immediate federal action is required to end the practice of dumping tritium in the Ottawa River” – MP Paul Dewar

“Immediate federal action is required to end the practice of dumping tritium in the Ottawa River” – MP Paul Dewar

March 20th, 2009

On March 6, 2009, Ottawa Centre Member of Parliament, Paul Dewar tabled a motion in the House of Commons that seeks to end tritium dumping into the Ottawa River and reduce the Canadian drinking water limit for tritium.

Here is the press release from Dewar’s office:

OTTAWA – NDP MP [New Democratic Party Member of Parliament] Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) is calling for a reduction in the amount of tritium — a cancer-causing radioactive form of hydrogen — in drinking water.

Dewar’s effort comes as Tritium Awareness Project announced that 28 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium has been released at the Chalk River nuclear facility into the Ottawa River, the source of drinking water in Ottawa.

“I am extremely concerned about the high levels of tritium in the water we drink” said Dewar. “There is a host of health risks posed by exposure to high levels of tritium in water”. ┬áStudies in lab animals have shown that high levels of tritium exposure can cause a number of health problems from miscarriages and birth defects to permanent genetic damage and cancer.

Government of Canada has set a voluntary guideline of 7,000 becquerels per litre for tritium in drinking water. In contrast, the European Union has a limit of 100 becquerels per litre and California has limited tritium levels in drinking water to only 15 bacquerels per litre.

Dewar has tabled a motion in the House of Commons that follows recommendations by a scientific advisory committee to the Government of Ontario to limit tritium levels in drinking water to 100 becquerels per litre immediately and reduce the limits to 20 becquerels per litre in the next five years.

“A million people rely on the Ottawa River; so the federal government must take serious steps to protect the health and integrity of this river” said Dewar who released an Action Plan for federal leadership in protecting the environmental integrity of the Ottawa River last year.

“As radioactive hydrogen, tritium contamination cannot be filtered out of water. Immediate federal action is required to end the practice of dumping tritium in the River and strengthen the regulations on tritium levels in drinking water”.

Dewar’s motion states:

That the House express its concern over the release of radioactive tritium into the Ottawa River from the Chalk River nuclear facility and call on the government to strengthen guidelines for tritium exposure in drinking water by reducing the limit of tritium exposure to 100 becquerels per litre (Bq/L) immediately and to 20 Bq/L after five years.

Tritium Awareness Project