tritium report canadian facilities.pdf
Part 1 examines the high tritium discharges from Canadian nuclear power stations, which are
considerably larger than those in other countries. Canadian tritium discharge limits are much
less stringent than those in other countries. Canadian tritium limits in drinking water are
considerably more lax than those in force in Europe and the US.
Those Great Lakes with nuclear reactors on their shores have tritium levels 2 to 5 times greater
than those of Lake Superior, which has no reactors. The tritium level in Lake Ontario is
increasing each year, due to discharges and to major tritium leaks in past years from Candu
Tritium concentrations in drinking water, in air, and in vegetation and food near Candu stations
are all significantly increased. These result in high tritium intakes in residents living within 5 to 10
km of Candu reactors and very high tritium intakes in residents who live within 1 to 2 km.
However, because of tritium’s very low dose factors, the radiation “doses” to those exposed are
considered insignificant and are declared “within safety limits” by nuclear regulators.
Part 2 examines the science on tritium’s doses. It finds that significant objections have been
made in the past to tritium’s official dosimetry and the official models used to estimate tritium
doses, especially from organically bound tritium. A number of recent UK and US reports
continue to raise questions about tritium’s official doses.
The report concludes that scientific concerns about tritium's hazards are inadequately
recognised by Canada's nuclear regulators. It therefore recommends that a precautionary
approach to tritium discharges should be adopted in Canada. In particular, it recommends
1) the Ontario and Federal governments should establish a committee (whose members
should include scientist representatives from environmental groups) to examine
tritium's dosimetry and risks. In particular, the committee should examine recent
authoritative reports which raise questions about currently-accepted views on tritium's
dosimetry and risks;
2) case-control and cohort epidemiology studies should be commissioned to examine
possible adverse health effects in tritium-contaminated areas;
3) pregnant women and young (less than 4 years old) children and their mothers should
be advised not to live near tritium-emitting facilities (i.e., within 10 km);
4) people who live very near (i.e., within 5 km) tritium-emitting facilities should be
advised not to consume food from their own gardens, bee hives and orchards, and
not to consume wild foods, e.g., blackberries and mushrooms, growing very near the
5) because tritium reduction facilities themselves release large quantities of tritium,
nuclear reactor operators should be requested to examine the option of long-term
storage of tritiated water from moderator circuits in decay tanks as a way of reducing
tritium discharges; and
6) operators of tritium-emitting facilities should give further consideration to other ways
and means of reducing tritium releases.