Posts Tagged ‘hydrogen bombs’

CNSC is proposing to remove non-proliferation safeguards from SRB’s licence

April 13th, 2015 No comments

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) runs the Darlington Tritium Removal Facility to reduce the tritium content of heavy water used to moderate CANDU reactors, protecting workers and the environment. This facility produces and stores 1-2 kilograms of pure tritium gas each year. OPG ships around 100 grams of tritium annually to the Chalk River Tritium Laboratory (part of the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, formerly AECL) whose primary function is to dispense tritium for OPG’s commercial tritium customers. SRB is the main customer, processing 85 grams of tritium in 2013. While 85 grams of tritium sounds like a tiny amount, David Albright and Theodore B. Taylor (“Making Warheads: A Little Tritium Goes a Long Way”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Jan. 1988) explain that only 2-3 grams of tritium are needed to boost the yield of a nuclear bomb several-fold. SRB processes enough tritium each year to supply 20-30 nuclear weapons.

CNSC is proposing to remove licence conditions for safeguards and non-proliferation from SRB’s licence. No reason is given for the proposal.

TAP finds this proposal bizarre and maintains that Canada must uphold its obligation under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons “to accept safeguards… with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

Tritium essential to construction of nuclear weapons

May 26th, 2012 No comments

From the Federation of American Scientists, Special Weapons Primer, Weapons of Mass Destruction (

“Tritium ( 3 H) is essential to the construction of boosted-fission nuclear weapons. A boosted weapon contains a mixture of deuterium and tritium, the gases being heated and compressed by the detonation of a plutonium or uranium device. The D-T mixture is heated to a temperature and pressure such that thermonuclear fusion occurs. This process releases a flood of 14 MeV neutrons which cause additional fissions in the device, greatly increasing its efficiency.

“Tritium is rare in nature because of its 12.4-year half-life. It is produced by cosmic radiation in the upper atmosphere where it combines with oxygen to form water. It then falls to earth as rain, but the concentration is too low to be useful in a nuclear weapons program. Most tritium is produced by bombarding 6Li [ 6 Li(n, a) 3 H] with neutrons in a reactor; it is also produced as a byproduct of the operation of a heavy-water-moderated reactor when neutrons are captured on the deuterons present.

“Tritium can be stored and shipped as a gas, a metal hydride (e.g., of titanium) or tritide, and trapped in zeolites (hydrated aluminum silicate compounds with uniform size pores in their crystalline structure). Stainless-steel cylinders with capacities up to 5.6 ‘ 10 7 GBq (1.5 MCi) of tritium gas are used for transportation and storage and must be constructed to withstand the additional pressure which will build up as tritium gradually decays to 3 He.

“All five declared nuclear weapon states must have the underlying capability to manufacture and handle tritium, although the United States has shut down its production reactors due to safety considerations. Canada manufactures tritium as a byproduct of the operation of CANDU reactors. (emphasis added) In principle, limited amounts of tritium could be made in any research reactor with the ability to accept a target to be irradiated.

          Sources and Methods

  • Adapted from - Nuclear Weapons Technology Militarily Critical Technologies List (MCTL) Part II: Weapons of Mass Destruction Technologies”

Too little is known about firms with nuclear ties, critics say

March 31st, 2009 Comments off

Martin Mittelstaedt, Globe and Mail (Canada)
February 8, 2006

The federal government is licensing companies to handle dangerous nuclear materials that have both peaceful and military uses without knowing who ultimately owns the businesses.

Nuclear critics say the fact that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the federal watchdog agency, does not know the identity of owners of the companies it oversees is a major blunder, given the high-security risks presented by nuclear materials and the potential costs of any accident involving radioactive releases. Read more…

Canadian watchdog cleared tritium shipment to Iran

March 31st, 2009 Comments off

March 23, 2006

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission approved a shipment to Iran last year by a Canadian company of about 70,000 glow-in-the-dark lights containing tritium, a radioactive gas that can also be used as a component in hydrogen bombs.

The amount of tritium approved by the nuclear regulator for shipment to the volatile Middle Eastern country was about 10 per cent of the quantity considered necessary for making one nuclear weapon, although the company selling the lights, SRB Technologies (Canada) Inc., said it sent less than it was allowed.
Read more…

Inspections of sign firm urged

March 29th, 2009 Comments off

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Nuclear watchdog may ask atomic agency to monitor Ontario company’s tritium use

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the body that tries to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons, should inspect SRB Technologies (Canada) Inc., a Canadian company that uses radioactive tritium, according to an internal report by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The recommendation will be reviewed by the commission, Canada’s nuclear watchdog, at a licence hearing for SRB next week. If approved, it would place the Pembroke, Ont., company in the same league in terms of inspections as facilities that have stockpiles of fissile material that could be converted into atomic weapons. Read more…