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Serious tritium pollution in Peterborough, Ontario

May 5th, 2009

Serious tritium pollution has recently come to light in the vicinity of Shield Source Incorporated, a tritium sign factory near the Peterborough airport. The company has applied for a five year extension of its existing license. The application will be considered at a public hearing at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in Ottawa on June 10th. 

Documents filed for the hearing show tritium contamination at the base of SSI’s stacks has exceeded 1,000,000 Becquerels per litre. Local apples and groundwater wells are contaminated at many times higher than background levels. 

 SSI’s current license permits it to release 34,000 quadrillion becquerels of tritium. This is an unbelievably large quantity. So large it’s hard to put into words. But suffice it to say that SSI’s current license permits it to release more than the current total global inventory of tritium.

Of course SSI’s actual tritium releases are only a small fraction of their allowable limit*. But a small fraction of an enormous number can still be a large amount.

This is all eerily familiar. Citizens of Pembroke have been through this with our own tritium sign factory, SRB Technologies Incorporated. Soil and groundwater in the vicinity of SRB remain highly contaminated with tritium and nearby residents have stopped growing vegetables for home consumption. Some still grow a few veggies to use for monitoring tritium contamination every year.

Members of the Tritium Awareness Project will be intervening in the licensing hearing for SSI on June 10th. Members of the public who are interested in intervening must contact the CNSC  by May 13th. Details for intervenors are available on the CNSC website at www.cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca/eng/

Members of the public can also sign and/or collect signatures on the TAP petition to phase out the use of tritium lights. The petition is located here.

* due to the CNSC’s strange practice of setting allowable limits more than a thousand times higher than actual releases, an approach that is contrary to guidance from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Tritium Awareness Project