Posts Tagged ‘tritium pollution’

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 finds high levels of organically-bound tritium near SRB and fails to mention these in documents for the May 13th hearning.

April 13th, 2015 No comments

A research study led by the CNSC’s own scientists, published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in 2015, found unexpectedly high levels of organically-bound tritium (OBT) in soils and vegetation near SRB. A cucumber sampled 4.8 km from SRB contained 117 Bq/L OBT, 15.4 times the tritium in the cucumber’s water. Soil sampled 400 meters from SRB contained 1010 Bq/L OBT, 9.9 times the tritium in soil water. OBT in soil or living organisms, including humans, can have very long residence times and is therefore even more hazardous than tritium in water. OBT is generally not included in routine vegetation sampling. CNSC documents for the May 13th hearing make no mention of these findings of high OBT near SRB, raising concerns about CNSC’s integrity and impartiality.

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).

Radioactive apples and incompetence at CNSC

April 10th, 2012 No comments

The transcript of the January 2011 mid-term review by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission of the operating license for Shield Source Incorporated (SSI) contains interesting verbal exchanges on the subject of tritium in apples from trees near SSI. According to the transcript, crabapples in a tree located 220 meters northeast from SSI question tested in 2010 contained over 2500 Becquerels per liter of tritium, compared to a normal background level of around 2 Becquerels per liter. Also of serious concern, apples 4.45 km north of SSI on Brealey Drive in Peterborough have consistently shown over 200 Becquerels per liter of tritium.

These findings are a warning sign that tritium contamination is widespread around SSI. However, CNSC staff do not see it that way. They state, for the record, that something unusual about apples causes them to concentrate tritium more than other types of vegetation. To quote from the transcript:

“We did observe as well that apples have this unique characteristic of having fairly high tritium concentrations even far away from some facilities and this is a subject of — will be the subject of some future research efforts to look at how apples are behaving this way. “

The CNSC is mandated to protect Canadians from radioactive pollution. Yet, CNSC staff repeatedly fall short in this regard. They seem unable to understand that tritium gas, which SSI releases from its stack, is readily oxidized to radioactive water, spreads throughout the environment and is incorporated into all organisms living nearby – including humans. Please see the tritium primer on this website for more on this.

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility opposes SSI license

April 10th, 2012 No comments

In a recent intervention filed with the CNSC, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility presents a strong case against licensing of Peterborough-based tritium light factory, Shield Source Incorporated. CCNR points out that tritium is a radioactive waste byproduct of CANDU nuclear reactors which should be carefully isolated from the environment and living organisms. Instead,tritium extracted from Ontario reactors is being sold to SSI and incorporated into self-luminous devices, the manufacture of which results in chronic radioactive pollution of local air, water, soil and foodstuffs due to the inability of the SSI facility to handle this radio-toxic substance without spilling large quantities into the surrounding environment.

A PDF version of the three-page CCNR intervention is available here .

SSI’s absurd release limit for tritium enables CNSC to cover up serious accident

April 9th, 2012 No comments

When Shield Source Incorporated (SSI), a Peterborough, Ontario-based manufacturer of tritium lights, applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in 2009 for a renewal of its operating license, Dr. Ole Hendrickson of Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County pointed out the absurdity of SSI’s “derived release limit” for tritium gas (HT) in the following statement:

“CNSC has currently set the derived release limit for HT from SSI at 3.40E+19 Bq/year (3.4 x 1010 GBq/a). This is over 200 times higher than the total global natural tritium production rate, and more than ten times the total world steady state natural inventory of tritium. (emphasis added)

Each year during the past five years, in theory, SSI could have emitted more than ten times the world’s current natural tritium inventory. Had they done so, tritium levels in rainfall, and in every water body in the world, would have risen several hundred-fold, reaching levels exceeding those measured at the peak of nuclear weapons testing in 1963.

Read more…

1.5 million Bq/l tritium at the base of SSI stack

April 9th, 2012 No comments

During preparations for intervention in the upcoming licensing hearing for SSI, the Peterborough-based citizen’s group SAGE has learned that soil tritium concentrations at the base of SSI’s stack exceeded 1.5 million Bq/l .  This is eerily similar to what happened at SRB Technologies in Pembroke several years ago where groundwater remains contaminated as a result and the stack area is surrounded by a fence.

In the case of SSI,  there is no signage or any indication  of the tritium hazard. Unbelievably there is a picnic table right beside the stack. Read more in the SAGE intervention for the upcoming hearing at the CNSC on May 2, 2012.

International experts to speak on relicensing of tritium-based industry in Peterborough

April 9th, 2012 No comments

Dr. Gordon Edwards and Dr. Linda Harvey, international experts on the risks of nuclear energy and health effects of radiation, will be presenting their perspective on the hazards of radioactive tritium, specifically in regard to the current federal relicensing process for Shield Source Incorporated (SSI), located at the Peterborough airport.

This important public event organized by Safe And Green Energy (SAGE) Peterborough will be held Wednesday, April 11th, 7:00 pm at the George Street United Church located at the corner of George Street and McDonnel Street. The event titled “Tritium and the Quality of Life In Peterborough” is free and all are welcome.