Independent Environmental Monitoring Program – BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. - Peterborough

BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. (BWXT), formerly GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada, is licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to operate a nuclear fuel fabrication facility, located in Peterborough, Ontario. BWXT manufactures nuclear fuel bundles for Canada’s nuclear power plants from uranium dioxide (UO2) powder. The BWXT Peterborough facility assembles UO2 pellets manufactured at the BWXT facility in Toronto into CANDU reactor fuel bundles. BWXT has a comprehensive environmental protection program to monitor and control nuclear and hazardous substances released from the site, determine concentrations in the environment, and to assess exposure to the public.

The Independent Environmental Monitoring Program (IEMP) results from 2014 and 2018, along with conclusions of available health studies for uranium processing facilities, confirm that the public and the environment in the vicinity of the BWXT Peterborough facility are protected and that there are no expected health impacts.

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[ ] Guideline/Reference Level

 

BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. - Peterborough

Sample Type Sample Description Parameter 2014 Result 2018 Result Guideline/
Reference Level
Expected Health Impact (Yes/No) Sample Code
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 2.6 mg/kg dry weight 1.38 mg/kg 23 mg/kg dry weight No GP01-S01
Soil 0-5 cm Beryllium 0.8 mg/kg dry weight 1.27 mg/kg 4.0 mg/kg dry weight No GP01-S01
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 3.5 mg/kg dry weight 1.75 mg/kg 23 mg/kg dry weight No GP02-S02
Soil 0-5 cm Beryllium 1.1 mg/kg dry weight 1.14 mg/kg 4.0 mg/kg dry weight No GP02-S02
Vegetation Grass Uranium <0.1 mg/kg dry weight N/A N/A No GP02-V01
Vegetation Grass Beryllium <0.1 mg/kg dry weight N/A N/A No GP02-V01
Air Ambient Uranium N/A <0.003 µg/m3 0.03 µg/m3 No GP03-A03
Air Ambient Beryllium N/A <0.003 µg/m3 0.01 µg/m3 No GP03-A03
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 4.7 mg/kg dry weight 1.63 mg/kg 23 mg/kg dry weight No GP03-S03
Soil 0-5 cm Beryllium 1.1 mg/kg dry weight 1.28 mg/kg 4.0 mg/kg dry weight No GP03-S03
Vegetation Grass Uranium N/A <0.1 mg/kg N/A No GP03-V04
Vegetation Grass Beryllium N/A <0.02 mg/kg N/A No GP03-V04
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 2.8 mg/kg dry weight 1.44 mg/kg 23 mg/kg dry weight No GP04-S04
Soil 0-5 cm Beryllium 0.9 mg/kg dry weight 1.08 mg/kg 4.0 mg/kg dry weight No GP04-S04
Air Ambient Uranium 0.0013 µg/m3 <0.003 µg/m3 0.03 µg/m3 No GP05-A01
Air Ambient Beryllium 0.000077 µg/m3 <0.003 µg/m3 0.01 µg/m3 No GP05-A01
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 3.5 mg/kg dry weight 1.70 mg/kg 23 mg/kg dry weight No GP05-S05
Soil 0-5 cm Beryllium 1 mg/kg dry weight 1.27 mg/kg 4.0 mg/kg dry weight No GP05-S05
Vegetation Grass Uranium <0.1 mg/kg dry weight <0.1 mg/kg N/A No GP05-V02
Vegetation Grass Beryllium <0.1 mg/kg dry weight <0.02 mg/kg N/A No GP05-V02
Air Ambient Uranium N/A <0.003 µg/m3 0.03 µg/m3 No GP06-A06
Air Ambient Beryllium N/A <0.003 µg/m3 0.01 µg/m3 No GP06-A06
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 3.5 mg/kg dry weight 1.65 mg/kg 23 mg/kg dry weight No GP06-S06
Soil 0-5 cm Beryllium 1 mg/kg dry weight 1.24 mg/kg 4.0 mg/kg dry weight No GP06-S06
Vegetation Grass Uranium <0.1 mg/kg dry weight N/A N/A No GP06-V03
Vegetation Grass Beryllium <0.1 mg/kg dry weight N/A N/A No GP06-V03
Air Ambient Uranium N/A <0.003 µg/m3 0.03 µg/m3 No GP07-A07
Air Ambient Beryllium N/A <0.003 µg/m3 0.01 µg/m3 No GP07-A07
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 3.1 mg/kg dry weight 1.67 mg/kg 23 mg/kg dry weight No GP07-S07
Soil 0-5 cm Beryllium 0.7 mg/kg dry weight 1.34 mg/kg 4.0 mg/kg dry weight No GP07-S07
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 3.4 mg/kg dry weight 1.92 mg/kg 23 mg/kg dry weight No GP08-S08
Soil 0-5 cm Beryllium 1 mg/kg dry weight 1.19 mg/kg 4.0 mg/kg dry weight No GP08-S08
Water Surface water Uranium N/A 0.2 µg/L 15 µg/L No GP09-W01
Water Surface water Beryllium N/A <0.1 µg/L N/A No GP09-W01
Water Surface water Uranium N/A 0.2 µg/L 15 µg/L No GP10-W02
Water Surface water Beryllium N/A <0.1 µg/L N/A No GP10-W02
Table Footnotes

1 The < symbol indicates that a result is below the provided laboratory analytical detection limit.

2 N/A – not available.

Background

Under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA), licensees of nuclear facilities are required to implement an environmental monitoring program to demonstrate that the public and the environment are protected from emissions related to the facility’s nuclear activities. The results of these monitoring programs are submitted to the CNSC to ensure compliance with applicable guidelines and limits, as set out in regulations that oversee Canada’s nuclear industry.

The CNSC has implemented its IEMP to verify that the public and the environment around licensed nuclear facilities are protected. It is separate from, but complementary to, the CNSC’s ongoing compliance verification program. The IEMP involves taking samples from public areas around the facilities, and measuring and analyzing the amount of radioactive and hazardous substances in those samples. CNSC staff collect the samples and send them to the CNSC’s state-of-the-art laboratory for testing and analysis. The area outside of the BWXT Peterborough site perimeter was sampled in 2014 and 2018.

2014 and 2018 results

he IEMP sampling plans for BWXT Peterborough facility focused on both radioactive and hazardous substances, such as uranium and beryllium. Uranium is both a radioactive substance because it decays at a slow rate by emitting gamma radiation and a hazardous substance because exposure to uranium leads to chemical toxicity. Beryllium is a hazardous substance used in the fuel bundle manufacturing process. A site-specific sampling plan was developed based on the licensee’s approved environmental monitoring program and the CNSC’s regulatory experience with the site. In July 2014 and July 2018, CNSC staff collected air, soil, vegetation and water samples in publically-accessible areas outside the BWXT Peterborough site perimeter. The levels of uranium and beryllium measured in air, soil, vegetation and water were below available guidelines.

The concentrations of uranium and beryllium in air and soil samples were below available guidelines. The concentrations of uranium and beryllium in vegetation samples were below the laboratory method detection limit. No health or environmental effects are expected at these levels.

Focus on health

The CNSC also conducts studies to assess the health of the public near nuclear facilities. Several studies have been carried out in Port Hope, ON, where uranium has been processed to manufacture nuclear fuel for decades. These studies have consistently demonstrated that people who live near uranium processing facilities, such as BWXT, are as healthy as the rest of the Canadian general population. Access the CNSC’s library of health studies and third-party research.

Conclusions

The IEMP 2014 and 2018 results indicate that the public and the environment in the vicinity of the BWXT Peterborough facility are protected and that there are no expected health impacts. These results are consistent with the results submitted by BWXT and the conclusions of available health studies for uranium processing facilities – demonstrating that the licensee’s environmental protection program protects the health and safety of people and the environment.

To obtain the full technical IEMP report, contact us at cnsc.information.ccsn@canada.ca, or call 613-995-5894 or 1-800-668-5284 (in Canada). Please provide the name of the facility and the report year.

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