SSI announces possible error in tritium emission calculations

April 9th, 2012 No comments

This public notice,  posted recently on the SSI website, is eerily reminiscent of a similar event several years ago in Pembroke when SRB Technologies Inc. discovered a 10-fold underestimation of its tritium emissions that had been ongoing for many years:

(From the Website of Shield Source Incorporated on April 8, 2012)


On March 28, 2012, we suspended operations to investigate potential errors in calculated HT emission data.  HT is tritium gas that is emitted in small quantities from our exhaust stack during our production process.  The CNSC was notified of this decision on the same day.

After consultation with independent consultants and the CNSC, we have decided to hire a third party consultant to install a parallel monitoring system to verify emission data during a limited production three day test scheduled to commence on April 3rd. Based on the values under consideration, this is not considered a threat to the public.  Verified independent environmental sampling of air, water, and vegetation remains at historically safe levels.  Additional information will be posted on this website as soon as it’s available.”

Note that SSI refers to “small quantities of tritium gas” being emitted from its exhaust stack. In fact, the tritium light factories, SSI in Peterborough, Ontario and SRB Technologies in Pembroke, Ontario are the two largest point sources for tritium gas emissions in the world, as far as we are aware.

Glow-in-the-dark light factory in Peterborough seeking a 10-year license

April 9th, 2012 No comments

Shield Source Incorporated (SSI) will appear before the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on May 2, 2012 seeking a 10-year license to manufacture glow-in-the-dark devices filled with tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen. CNSC staff support ra 5-year renewal of SSI’s license, which expires July 31, 2012.  SSI, located at the Peterborough, Ontario airport, routinely emits large quantities of radioactive tritium gas into the surrounding environment. 

The CNSC has refused to release a full report on a February 1, 2010 accident when SSI released roughly 150 trillion Becquerels of radioactive gas in a period of only about five minutes, nearly ten times the company’s weekly release limit, and 30% of its yearly limit.  Groundwater in the area is highly polluted with tritium oxide.  Local vegetation has incorporated tritium into a broad range of organic compounds.

During the current licence period in late 2009, CNSC staff allowed SSI to increase the height of its stack without public notice or environmental review, so that the company could spread its radioactive pollution farther away from the factory.  CNSC staff, commenting on their decision in this matter, claim that “improvements to the design of the stack positively impacted the dispersion of tritium in the environment, consistent with industry best practice.”

For those familiar with the history of serious contamination of Pembroke, Ontario by tritium light manufacturer SRB Technologies, this is an unpleasant case of deja vu.


Risks of tritium on health could be underestimated – Le Monde

July 9th, 2010 No comments

Director General of the French nuclear regulator, Autorite de Surete Nucleaire, Jean-Christophe Niel, calls on nuclear operators to control their tritium emissions in this article from Le Monde dated July 8, 2010.

The risks of tritium on health could be underestimated

The risks of tritium – the radioactive form of hydrogen – could be undervalued because it could be bound into the DNA of cells, according to experts who participated in a White Paper published on Thursday July 8 by the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN).  Read more…

CNSC tritium whitewash report

June 21st, 2010 Comments off

TAP advisory board member Dr. Ian Fairlie just sent this comment about the “Tritium Studies Project Synthesis Report” , published on the CNSC website here.

“My initial perusal indicates that this another highly slanted, misleading, CNSC defence of the practice of releasing very large amounts of tritium near Canadian nuclear power facilities. It is perhaps revealing that the report (Figs 5 and 6) shows high tritium levels very near the SRB facility at Pembroke, but remains silent about the high tritium intakes by people near nuclear power facilities.

The report takes a hesitant one step forward in actually mentioning the ACES and ODWAC reports (for the first time by CNSC). But two steps backward in refraining from discussing the concerns about tritium which led to the reports.

The report has many defects and omissions but the main deficiency is that it ignores the mounting scientific evidence from radiation biology that tritium is a serious health hazard.”

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.