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Boxes of tritium dropped on Bank Street in Ottawa

April 2nd, 2009

One day just before Christmas in December 2000, after a particularly depressing relicensing hearing for SRB Technologies (the tritium light factory in Pembroke Ontario) I picked up the Ottawa Citizen and noticed a tiny little blurb about boxes of radioactive material falling off a Purolator truck in downtown Ottawa. SRB had just been granted a 5-year license despite our protests about their sloppy and highly polluting practices.

Turns out that a passerby in downtown Ottawa noticed three boxes in the middle of Bank St. with radiation symbols on them. She called the police and several blocks of downtown Ottawa were cordoned off while the boxes were dealt with by emergency services. Personnel from SRB in Pembroke were called to retrieve the material, compressed tritium gas and lights bound for an undisclosed destination in the United States.

This could have been a disaster if the boxes had been run over and the contents released to the environment. Questions in our mind, such as why was SRB shipping compressed tritium gas by Purolator to the United States were never adequately answered by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Hearing about this left us shaking our heads. We had spent hours and hours on research, consultations with independent scientists, preparation of logical arguments and interventions and what had it got us? A deaf ear was turned to our concerns by the CNSC. SRB was rewarded with a five-year license and days after receiving it, their sloppy practices led to a large quantity of radiation being dropped on the street in downtown Ottawa.

Several years later we learned that the year 2000 was one of the two recent years on record when SRB Technologies released more radioactive tritium to the environment in the City of Pembroke, than all of Canada’s nuclear generating stations combined.

Lynn Jones, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County, Pembroke

Tritium Awareness Project