Posts Tagged ‘SRB Technologies’

Gross incompetence on the part of CNSC staff describing groundwater contamination near SRB

May 14th, 2015 No comments

Here is what the CNSC staff say (source) about groundwater contamination near SRB Technologies:

“The monitoring data collected by SRBT since the last licence renewal continue to be within the range predicted from CNSC staff’s modeling assessment conducted in 2010, as shown in figures 4 and 5, using the two monitoring wells in close proximity to SRBT as an example. The relatively good match between the modeling results and measurements provides validation to CNSC staff’s 2010 prediction on the behaviors of tritium in the groundwater system. It also demonstrates that releases of tritium resulting from SRB’s operation are under control and the tritium movement in groundwater around the SRB facility is well understood”

Here is what independent scientist, Dr. Ole Hendrickson found when he looked at the same data:

“In fact, Figure 5 indicates a poor match between the modeling results and actual tritium measurements in monitoring MW07-13.  None of the results for the 15 most recent samples taken from this monitoring well are within the range predicted by CNSC staff’s modeling assessment.  All had consistently higher tritium contamination than predicted by CNSC staff.”

Dr. Hendrickson goes on to say:

“Even more troubling is that the Environmental Assessment Information Report omits data for the other two monitoring wells modeled in the Update on Tritium Contamination in Groundwater at SRBT:  MW07-18 and MW07-29.  In these two wells, the agreement between the CNSC staff model and actual measurements is very poor.  Table 1 shows that during 2014, MW07-18 and MW07-29 had average tritium contamination levels 3.3 and 10.9 times higher than CNSC staff predictions, respectively.

“One must conclude that the statement on page 11 of 18 of the Environmental Assessment Information Report that “SRB’s operation has not adversely affected the groundwater quality” is false.  The mismatch between predicted and measured groundwater tritium contamination indicates that releases of tritium resulting from SRBT’s operations are not under control and the tritium movement in groundwater around the SRBT facility is not well understood.”

You can read Dr. Hendrickson’s full report, prepared for The First Six Years, here on the TAP website:  Tritium Behaviour in the Vicinity of SRB Technologies


CNSC’s absurd 10-minute rule

May 14th, 2015 No comments

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission allows members of the public to make oral presentations at licensing hearings, but only allows 10 minutes per person or group. There are no restrictions on the licensee or the CNSC staff who are permitted to drone on ad libitum.

It is patently ridiculous that intervenors who spend  hundreds of hours researching and preparing submissions, essentially doing the CNSC’s work for it, are restricted to a 10-minute oral presentation. Even those intervenors who receive funding from the CNSC to partially compensate them for time and expenses involved in presenting, are restricted to 10 minutes.

In today’s hearing, for example, the First Six Years received intervenor funding and hired Dr. Ian Fairlie and Dr. Ole Hendrickson to prepare reports on The Hazards of Tritium Releases and SRB Pembroke and Tritium Behaviour in the Environment near Pembroke. You can read these reports in full here on the TAP website (links below). The First Six Years will be restricted to a 10 minute time slot for the oral presentation, time to cover only a small fraction of the substantive new information from the two reports.

The Hazards of Tritium Releases at SRB Pembroke 

Tritium Behaviour in the Vicinity of SRB Technologies

SRB License hearing in Pembroke today

May 14th, 2015 No comments

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission public hearing re the application by SRB Technologies for a 10-year license is taking place today in Pembroke at the Best Western Pembroke Inn and Conference Centre beginning at 9:00 am. Members of the public are welcome to attend. The hearing will also be webcast on

Intervenors will include the following:

Dr. Ian Fairlie and Kelly O’Grady on behalf of The First Six Years

Dr. Gordon Edwards on behalf of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

Dr. Ole Hendrickson on behalf of Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County

Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Ottawa Riverkeeper

Prevent Cancer Now

Science for Peace

and several individuals.

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CCNR opposes 10-year license for SRBT

May 14th, 2015 No comments

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR) makes a strong case against a 10-year license for SRB Technologies in its recent  submission to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

CCNR points out that Pembroke has been subjected to widespread tritium contamination due to incompetence of the regulator, CNSC, formerly the Atomic Energy Control Board. AECB essentially granted SRBT a license to market nuclear waste (tritium) that had been carefully segregated from heavy water by Ontario Power Generation and stored in stainless steel containers in a concrete vault at the Darlington Tritium Removal Facility. AECB allowed SRB to set up in a populated area in Pembroke, close to residences and businesses, with no exclusion zone. AECB did not properly oversee SRBT’s activities or require environmental monitoring for the first decade of its operation.

The Coalition urges current commission members to not compound the mistakes of their predecessors by allowing tritium emissions to continue in Pembroke, given that even if emissions are better controlled than before, tritium levels will continue to increase in the environment, due to the long half-life of tritium. CCNR argues that the SRBT facility should be either shut down altogether unless they can reduce radioactive emissions to zero, or they should be forced to relocate to an industrial or research site with an enforced exclusion zone such as Chalk River Labs.

The Coalition also raises serious concerns about the potential for tritium in the tubes that are filled at SRBT in Pembroke to end up in nuclear weapons.

You can read the CCNR submission here.


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.”

Pembroke sewage sludge contaminated with tritium

April 11th, 2015 No comments

SRBT discharges tritium-contaminated water into Pembroke’s sanitary sewer system.  Annual discharges during the 2010-2014 period ranged from 7-13 GigaBecquerels (a GigaBecquerel (GBq) is the amount of a radioactive substance that produces one billion radioactive disintegrations every second).  CNSC sets a 200 GBq limit for SRBT’s liquid discharges.

The City of Pembroke’s sewage treatment plant receives SRBT’s liquid discharges of tritium.  Some of the tritium becomes incorporated in sewage sludge, while the remainder is discharged to the Ottawa River.  A recently published study, Measurements and Dose Consequences of Tritium in Municipal Sewage Sludge, found that Pembroke had the highest levels of tritium contamination in sewage sludge of any city studied, at 34 Bq/kg of HTO, and 400 Bq/kg of OBT, or 1800 Bq/kg dry weight (CNSC 2015c).  According to this study, “A 38 percent increase was observed in the measured OBT concentration of the 2014 sample compared to the one obtained in 2013.”

The study does not examine the potential for tritium contamination of soil and crop plants if Pembroke sewage sludge were to be spread as biosolids on agricultural land.  It says that sewage sludge from Pembroke’s sewage treatment plant “is currently disposed of at the Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre” (CNSC 2015c).

CNSC recommends 10-year license for SRB Technologies

April 7th, 2015 No comments

A two-day hearing is scheduled for May 13 and 14th in Pembroke, Ontario where the Commission will hear arguments for and against a 10 year license for SRBT.
The public is invited to submit written comments and/or make an oral presentation at the hearing. Deadline for submissions is April 13, 2015. More info here.

TAP says a 10-year license is not appropriate given the history of license violations and environmental tritium contamination at this facility. 

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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.


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?”