Regulatory Oversight Report for Uranium Mines and Mills in Canada: 2019

Regulatory Oversight Report for Uranium Mines and Mills in Canada: 2019 (PDF)

Plain Language Summary

The Regulatory Oversight Report for Uranium Mines and Mills in Canada: 2019 provides information about the work of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to ensure the safety and protection of people and the environment around operating uranium mines and mills in Canada, all of which are located in northern Saskatchewan. These uranium mines and mills continued to operate safely in 2019, and monitoring shows that the country foods and water surrounding the mines and mills remained safe to eat and drink. There were no releases that could have harmed human health or the environment.

This report provides information on the following uranium mines and mills in Saskatchewan:

  • Cigar Lake – operating uranium mine
  • McClean Lake – operating uranium mill
  • McArthur River – uranium mine in care and maintenance
  • Rabbit Lake – uranium mine and mill in care and maintenance
  • Key Lake – uranium mill in care and maintenance

When in a state of care and maintenance, a mine and/or mill is not engaged in the mining, milling or processing of uranium ore, and is not producing uranium concentrate (yellowcake). These facilities still have sufficient staff to complete ongoing maintenance and water treatment and to protect employees, the public and the environment.

Each year, CNSC inspectors conduct inspections at uranium mines and mills. The number of inspections and their focus depend on the performance and operating status of the mine or mill. The CNSC uses a risk-informed approach when planning inspections. In 2019, CNSC staff performed a total of 20 inspections across the 5 mining/milling facilities. These inspections resulted in the issuance of 23 notices of non-compliance, which were all related to issues identified as low risk. The operators have addressed all items of non-compliance noted during the inspections, to the CNSC’s satisfaction.

The CNSC evaluates operating nuclear facilities across 14 safety and control areas. However, this report focuses on the following 3 functional areas as these provide a good overview of safety performance at uranium mine and mill sites:

  • Radiation protection: In 2019, the maximum individual radiation dose to a worker at any of the 5 uranium mine and mill facilities was only 9% of the annual regulatory limit.
  • Environmental protection: CNSC licensees are required to report any unauthorized releases of hazardous substances or nuclear materials to the environment, to the CNSC and other regulatory authorities. In 2019, there were 11 unauthorized releases reported. This is lower than the number of releases for uranium mines and mills in previous years. All the causes for releases were investigated and corrected by the mine or mill operators. No lasting impacts to the environment resulted from these releases. Each mine and mill facility uses water as part of the mining and milling process. All water used in the operation must be treated before being discharged back to the environment. In 2019, all discharged water met the federal or provincial discharge requirements, ensuring the safety of persons near the facility.
  • Conventional health and safety: All mining and milling operations must report any workplace-related lost-time injuries to the CNSC and provincial agencies. In 2019, there were 4 lost-time injuries reported (see appendix G).

Indigenous and Community Engagement

As an agent of the Government of Canada, the CNSC recognizes and understands the importance of building relationships with Indigenous peoples in Canada. The CNSC’s goal is to build partnerships and trust with Indigenous communities through collaborative ongoing engagement activities related to CNSC-regulated facilities and activities of interest within their traditional and/or treaty territories. The uranium mines and mills discussed in this report lie within the traditional territories of many Indigenous communities.

In 2019, the efforts of CNSC staff supported their ongoing commitment to meeting consultation and accommodation obligations and to continuing to build relationships with Indigenous peoples interested in Canada’s uranium mines and mills.

In 2019, in response to recommendations from the Commission, CNSC staff took the initiative to meet with Indigenous groups and their leaders from communities in northern Saskatchewan. Staff did this before the public consultation period for this regulatory oversight report, in order to provide information and seek opportunities for improvement.

Summary

  • Workers at each facility were safe and properly protected.
  • There were no releases that could have harmed the environment or health and safety of people.
  • Airborne radiation was not increased as a result of these facilities’ activities.
  • All water released from the facilities was safe.
  • Fish and plants harvested near these facilities were safe to eat.
  • The health and safety of people near these facilities and the surrounding environment continued to be protected.

1. Introduction

Through the application of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA) and its associated regulations, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulates Canada’s nuclear industry to protect the health and safety of persons and the environment and to implement Canada’s international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The CNSC also disseminates objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public. Licensees are responsible for operating their facilities safely and are required to implement programs that make adequate provision for meeting legislative and regulatory requirements. This regulatory oversight report for operating uranium mines and mills (UMMs) provides an overview of the CNSC’s regulatory efforts related to mine and mill sites operated by Cameco Corporation (Cameco) and Orano Canada Inc. (Orano) for the 2019 calendar year.

The facilities covered by this report are:

  • Cigar Lake Operation (uranium mine  –  operating)
  • McArthur River Operation (uranium mine  –  care and maintenance)
  • Rabbit Lake Operation (uranium mine and mill  –  care and maintenance)
  • Key Lake Operation (uranium mill  –  care and maintenance)
  • McClean Lake Operation (uranium mine and mill – operating)

The report focuses on 3 safety and control areas (SCAs), namely radiation protection, environmental protection, and conventional health and safety, as they provide a good overview of safety performance at UMM sites. The report also includes information on public information programs, engagement with Indigenous groups and communities, and reportable events for each facility.

2. Uranium Mines and Mills

This section of the report focuses on the performance of the 5 UMMs in Canada in 2019. CNSC staff report on historic and decommissioned sites every 3 years; this activity will be included in the report for 2020.

The facilities are located within the Athabasca Basin of northern Saskatchewan and are shown in figure 2.1. Of the 5 facilities, 3 remained in a state of care and maintenance during 2019. The 2 operating facilities (McClean Lake and Cigar Lake) are displayed in blue.

Figure 2.1: Location of UMMs in Saskatchewan
McClean Lake, Rabbit Lake, Cigar Lake, McArthur River and Key Lake

2.1 Cigar Lake Operation

Cameco Corporation (Cameco) is the operator of the Cigar Lake Operation, which is located approximately 660 kilometres north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

The Cigar Lake Operation consists of an underground uranium mine with surface facilities for loading ore slurry into trucks; and waste management facilities, a water treatment plant, surface freeze plants, administration offices and warehouses.

The current CNSC licence, UML-MINE-CIGAR.00/2021, authorizes the operation of the nuclear facility for the mining of uranium ore and is valid until June 30, 2021. Mining of ore continued throughout 2019.

For further information, visit the CNSC web page on the Cigar Lake facilities.

2.2 McArthur River Operation

Cameco operates the McArthur River mine, which is located approximately 620 kilometres north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Facilities at the McArthur River Operation include an underground uranium mine; primary ore processing, ore slurry loading and waste management facilities; a water treatment plant; effluent storage ponds; surface freeze plants; and administration offices and warehouse buildings.

The current CNSC licence, UML-MINE-MCARTHUR.01/2023, authorizes the operation of the nuclear facility for the mining of uranium ore and is valid until 2023. During 2019, the mine remained in care and maintenance.

For further information, visit the CNSC web page on the McArthur River facilities.

2.3 Rabbit Lake Operation

The Rabbit Lake Operation is located 750 kilometres north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Operated by Cameco, the facility stretches across approximately 20 kilometres. The Eagle Point underground mine is located at the northern margin of the property. Moving southward, 3 mined-out pits, of which 2 are reclaimed (A-Zone and D-Zone pits) and 1 flooded (B-Zone pit), all border Collins Bay of Wollaston Lake. The B-Zone pit remains isolated from Collins Bay by an intact dyke. In the central part of the property, the mined-out Rabbit Lake pit was converted to a tailings management facility (TMF). Adjacent to the in-pit TMF is the mill. South of the mill is the above-ground TMF, which has not received tailings since 1985. At the southern margin, after passage through settling ponds, all treated effluent (which must meet federal and provincial discharge limits) is continuously discharged and eventually reaches Hidden Bay of Wollaston Lake.

The current CNSC licence, UMOL-MINEMILL-RABBIT.00/2023, which expires in 2023, authorizes the operation of the nuclear facility for the mining of uranium ore, the processing of high-grade ore, the production of uranium concentrate and the disposal of tailings in a TMF. During 2019, the mine and mill remained in care and maintenance.

For further information, visit the CNSC web page on the Rabbit Lake facilities.

2.4 Key Lake Operation

Located approximately 570 kilometres north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the Key Lake Operation is operated by Cameco. The operation began with 2 open-pit mines and a mill complex. The Gaertner open pit was mined from 1983 to 1987, followed by the Deilmann open pit until 1997.

Milling of the stockpiled Deilmann ore continued until 1999, when the McArthur River Operation began supplying ore slurry to the Key Lake mill. The Key Lake Operation continues today as a mill operation that processes McArthur River ore slurry and residual special waste from previous mining at Key Lake.

After open-pit mining in the eastern pit of the Deilmann ore body was completed in 1995, the pit was converted into the engineered Deilmann TMF, while mining continued in other parts of the pit area. Mill tailings continue to be deposited into this facility today.

The current CNSC licence, UML-MILL-KEY.01/2023, which expires in 2023, authorizes the operation of a nuclear facility for the milling of uranium ore, the production of uranium concentrate and the disposal of tailings in a tailings management facility. During 2019, the mine and mill remained in care and maintenance.

For further information, visit the CNSC web page on the Key Lake facilities.

2.5 McClean Lake Operation

Orano Canada Inc. (Orano) is the operator of the McClean Lake Operation. The McClean Lake Operation is a UMM facility located approximately 750 kilometres north of Saskatoon in the Athabasca Basin of northern Saskatchewan. The McClean Lake Operation includes the John Everett Bates (JEB) milling area; Sue mining area; JEB TMF; and the undeveloped McClean, Midwest and Caribou ore deposits.

The current CNSC licence, UMOL-MINEMILL-McCLEAN.01/2027, which expires in 2027, authorizes the operation of the nuclear facility for the mining of uranium ore, the processing of high-grade ore slurry from Cameco’s Cigar Lake Operation, the production of uranium concentrate and the disposal of tailings at the JEB TMF. During 2019, the McClean Lake mill and JEB TMF continued normal operation, processing ore from the Cigar Lake Operation into uranium concentrate.

For further information, visit the CNSC web page on the McClean Lake facilities.

3. CNSC’s Regulatory Oversight of UMM Facilities

The CNSC performs regulatory oversight of licensed facilities to verify compliance with the requirements of the NSCA and associated regulations made under the NSCA, each facility licence and licence conditions handbook (LCH), and any other applicable standards and regulatory documents. Regulatory oversight includes licensing, compliance verification and reporting to the Commission. CNSC staff conduct compliance verification of licensee programs, processes and reports through:

  • inspections
  • reviews of operational activities and documentation
  • reviews of licensee reports and events

If non-compliances with requirements are determined, corrective enforcement actions are issued and tracked to completion.

To ensure consistency, CNSC staff use the Safety and Control Area (SCA) Framework to assess, evaluate, review, verify and report on licensee performance. The SCA Framework includes 14 SCAs, which are subdivided into specific areas that define its key components. For further information, visit the CNSC web page on the SCA Framework.

3.1 Regulatory activities

CNSC staff spent over 8,000 hours in 2019 working on licensing and compliance activities for UMM facilities.

Compliance

The CNSC ensures licensee compliance through verification, enforcement and reporting activities. CNSC staff implement compliance plans for each facility by conducting regulatory activities including onsite inspections, desktop reviews and technical assessments of licensee programs, processes and reports.

In 2019, CNSC staff spent more than 850 days on compliance activities. This included desktop reviews and technical assessments of licensee documents, and 20 multi-day onsite inspections. Appendix A contains a list of CNSC inspections carried out at each UMM facility in 2019.

Licensing

In 2019, CNSC staff spent approximately 168 days on licensing activities. Staff drafted new licences, prepared Commission member documents, and drafted or revised LCHs, among other activities.

Appendix B shows a summary of changes to UMM licences and LCHs during 2019. When a CNSC regulatory document is published, CNSC staff update the LCHs as applicable for each facility, taking into consideration the licensee’s implementation plans. CNSC staff verify the implementation as part of ongoing compliance verification activities.

Appendix C lists those CNSC regulatory documents that were published by 2019 and apply to the UMM facilities. The list also includes the implementation status for each facility.

International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards activities

Under the terms of the Canada–International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards agreements, the IAEA has the right to perform independent verification activities at various types of facilities in Canada. IAEA activities are not CNSC compliance inspections, but CNSC staff accompany the IAEA in roughly 75% of its activities.

In 2019, the IAEA carried out activities at the Key Lake, McArthur River and McClean Lake Operations to verify nuclear material inventories and assure the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. No issues were identified.

3.2 Performance ratings, 2019

Performance ratings result from regulatory oversight activities. CNSC staff have revised the rating system used in this regulatory report and rate UMM performance in each SCA as either “satisfactory” (SA) or “below expectations” (BE). For 2019, CNSC staff rated all SCAs for all UMM facilities as “satisfactory”.

Appendix D provides SCA ratings for each facility from 2017 to 2019. CNSC staff have rated all 5 facilities as satisfactory in each SCA during this time.

4. CNSC’s Assessment of Safety at UMM Facilities

The CNSC regulates all aspects of safety at nuclear operations in Canada, including risks to workers, the public and the environment. Information related to the SCAs of radiation protection, environmental protection, and conventional health and safety are most representative of the overall safety performance of UMM facilities. In particular, the SCAs of radiation protection and conventional health and safety are a good measure of the safety of workers at UMM sites, while the SCA of environmental protection is a good measure of the safety of the public and the environment.

For both the radiation protection and environmental protection SCAs, action levels are used. An action level is a specific dose of radiation or other parameter that serves as an early warning to safeguard against exceedances of radiation dose limits and environmental release limits. The licensee must report action level exceedances to the CNSC.

Figure 4.1: CNSC regulatory limits and action levels
Figure 4.1: CNSC regulatory limits and action levels. Text version below:
Figure 4.1: Text version
Regulatory Limit
Parameter that, if exceeded, warrants enforcement action
Action Level

Parameter that, if exceeded, may indicate potential loss of control with a program

Parameter within range of normal operation

4.1 Environmental protection

Protection of the environment and the public are included in the environmental protection SCA, which covers programs that identify, control and monitor all releases of radioactive and hazardous substances, and the effects on the environment from facilities or as a result of licensed activities.

Currently, all UMM facilities covered in this regulatory oversight report continue to have acceptable environmental protection programs in place to ensure the protection of the public and the environment. For 2019, CNSC staff rated the environmental protection SCA at all licensed UMM facilities as “satisfactory”.

Appendix E provides the total annual releases of radionuclides for each UMM facility.

Environmental risk assessment

The CNSC uses facility-specific, licensee-developed environmental risk assessments (ERAs) as a regulatory tool throughout the lifecycle of UMM facilities to confirm that the public and the environment are protected. Licence applicants use ERAs during initial environmental assessments for new facilities and for changes to existing facilities or activities at licensed operations where applicable. Every 5 years, ERAs are updated and the risks to the public and the environment are reassessed. ERAs updates are based on changes to operational activities, revised predictions, environmental monitoring data collected over the previous 5 years, and the latest science. In 2019, all UMM operations had ERAs that CNSC staff had reviewed and accepted. Table 4.1 outlines the time frame for the current and upcoming ERAs.

Table 4.1: Current and upcoming ERAs
Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
Current ERA 2017 2015 2015 2015 2016
Upcoming ERA 2022 2020 2020 2020 2021

Effluent and emissions control at UMM facilities

Cameco and Orano implement effluent and environmental monitoring programs at all facilities included in this regulatory oversight report. At all UMM facilities, airborne and waterborne releases of radioactive and hazardous substances remained below regulatory limits in 2019.

Figures 4.2 and 4.3 present 2 examples that have historically been the focus of discussions: selenium and molybdenum.

No action levels were exceeded at UMM facilities for releases of radioactive or hazardous substances during this reporting period.

Figure 4.2: Selenium in treated effluent (mg/L), 2015 to 2019
Figure 4.2: Selenium in treated effluent (mg/L), 2015 to 2019. Text version below:
Figure 4.2: Text version
Selenium in treated effluent (mg/L)
Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
2015 0.0041 0.0025 0.0042 0.0180 0.0092
2016 0.0062 0.0037 0.0035 0.0170 0.0210
2017 0.0042 0.0036 0.0024 0.0150 0.0110
2018 0.0044 0.0023 0.0026 0.0100 0.0210
2019 0.0041 0.0024 0.0023 0.0100 0.0370

Provincial licence effluent discharge limit – 0.6 mg/L

Figure 4.3: Molybdenum in treated effluent (mg/L), 2015 to 2019
Figure 4.3: Molybdenum in treated effluent (mg/L), 2015 to 2019. Text version below:
Figure 4.3: Text version
Molybdenum in treated effluent (mg/L)
Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
2015 0.0763 0.1458 0.2680 0.1000 0.0024
2016 0.0369 0.1851 0.2730 0.0800 0.0020
2017 0.0640 0.1460 0.1390 0.1200 0.0040
2018 0.1030 0.0164 0.1800 0.0700 0.0030
2019 0.1069 0.0120 0.1590 0.0500 0.0020

Most conservative site wide action level – 0.6 mg/L

Cameco’s and Orano’s environmental management systems

The CNSC requires that licensees develop and maintain environmental management systems (EMSs) in order to provide a documented framework for integrated activities related to environmental protection. Cameco and Orano have established corporate EMSs that apply to all of their facilities in Canada. Through regular compliance verification activities, CNSC staff confirmed that, in 2019, Cameco and Orano met the annual environmental objectives, goals and targets established in the EMSs.

Assessment and monitoring

CNSC staff confirmed that Cameco and Orano, in accordance with their environmental protection and monitoring programs, successfully carried out required effluent and environmental monitoring, inspections, environmental awareness training and program implementation for the facilities covered by this regulatory oversight report. Through compliance activities conducted during 2019, CNSC staff concluded that environmental monitoring conducted at, and discharge of treated effluent from, UMM facilities met regulatory requirements.

Protection of the public

Cameco and Orano are required to demonstrate that the health and safety of the public are protected from exposures to hazardous substances released from their licensed operations. The effluent and environmental monitoring programs are used to verify that releases of hazardous substances do not result in environmental concentrations that may affect public health.

Protection of the public is also assessed in the ERA, which contains a human health risk assessment (HHRA). The concentrations of contaminants that a typical local resident may be exposed to (for example, through consumption) are assessed against human health benchmarks in the HHRA. In 2019, the HHRAs for all facilities confirmed that concentrations of contaminants for a typical local resident were well below concentrations that could cause health effects.

4.2 Protection of workers

The mandate of the CNSC includes consideration of the safety of all workers at licensed facilities, including licensee staff, contractors, subcontractors and visitors. The radiation protection SCA and conventional health and safety SCA are the most direct measure of the licensee’s performance in these areas.

4.2.1 Radiation protection

The radiation protection SCA covers the implementation of a radiation protection program in accordance with the Radiation Protection Regulations. UMM facilities are required to implement and maintain a radiation protection program to ensure that contamination levels and radiation doses received by individuals are monitored, controlled and maintained as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA).

For 2019, CNSC staff rated the radiation protection SCA at all licensed UMM facilities as “satisfactory”. It should be noted that CNSC staff’s rating system changed, but their assessment of facility safety did not. The change is to use a binary system – that is, a system with 2 ratings: “satisfactory” and “below expectations”. This change has resulted in McClean Lake’s radiation protection performance being rated as “satisfactory” rather than “fully satisfactory” as in previous years. CNSC staff have not noted any negative changes in McClean Lake’s radiation protection performance in 2019; the change in rating is a reflection of an administrative change to the CNSC’s reporting process.

Appendix F contains data on doses to workers for each UMM facility for 2019.

Application of ALARA

Application of ALARA within the radiation protection programs at all UMM facilities includes management commitment and oversight, personnel qualification and training, design analyses of facilities and systems, provision of protective equipment and ALARA assessments/reviews of radiological activities.

In 2019, UMM facilities continued to effectively implement ALARA programs. These programs integrated ALARA into design, planning, management and control of radiological activities, and were based on current industry best practices and operating experience. The licensees applied the ALARA principle to activities and included all potential exposures: direct, airborne and contamination.

Worker dose control

A worker conducting work activities that present a reasonable probability that the worker may receive an occupational dose greater than 1 millisievert (mSv)/year is identified as a nuclear energy worker (NEW). A NEW can be an employee or a contractor. A worker whose job function does not present a reasonable probability of receiving an occupational dose greater than 1 mSv/year is considered a non-NEW.

In 2019, no worker at a UMM facility received a radiation dose in excess of the CNSC regulatory dose limits.

Radiation protection program performance

Radiation protection program performance at UMM facilities was assessed in 2019 through CNSC staff compliance activities.

In 2019, no radiation protection action levels were exceeded.

Radiological hazard control

Radiation and contamination monitoring programs continued to be implemented at UMM facilities in 2019, to control and minimize both direct and airborne radiological hazards and the spread of radioactive contamination. The licensees routinely performed dose rate measurements and, where appropriate, in-plant air monitoring, to confirm that radiation exposures were kept ALARA.

The radiological measurements taken in 2019 by CNSC staff did not identify any adverse results, and were consistent with expected radiological conditions.

4.2.2 Conventional health and safety

The conventional health and safety SCA covers the implementation of a program to manage workplace safety hazards and protect workers. Licensed UMM facilities must develop, implement and maintain effective safety programs to promote safe and healthy workplaces and prevent incidences of occupational injuries and illnesses. Conventional health and safety is assessed by the CNSC as well as the provincial regulating authority.

For 2019, CNSC staff rated the conventional health and safety SCA at all licensed UMM facilities as “satisfactory”.

Practices

During 2019, CNSC staff verified UMM safety practices during compliance inspections, all of which incorporated the verification of aspects related to conventional health and safety. They also verified UMM safety practices during specific desktop reviews and technical assessments.

Performance

The industry standard key performance indicator for conventional health and safety for UMM facilities is the total number of recordable incident rate (TRIR). The TRIR is derived from combining the number of safety incidents and total work hours of all employees within a standard employee group.

Appendix G contains health and safety information for each UMM facility for 2019.

5. Events and Other Matters of Regulatory Interest

5.1 Reportable events

Detailed requirements for reporting to the CNSC unplanned situations or events at licensed UMM facilities are included in the applicable LCH. CNSC REGDOC-3.1.2 Reporting Requirements for Non-Power Reactor Class I Facilities and Uranium Mines and Mills, came into force for applicable UMM licensees in January 2019. Over the 2019 reporting period, Cameco and Orano complied with reporting requirements. For reportable events that occurred in 2019, CNSC staff are satisfied with Cameco’s and Orano’s corrective actions. Table 5.1 displays the total number of reportable events that occurred at UMM facilities between 2015 and 2019.

Table 5.1: Reportable events at UMM facilities, 2015 to 2019
Year Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
2015 10 0 2 1 6
2016 5 1 2 1 8
2017 5 2 1 3 3
2018 5 2 2 5 6
2019 3 1 0 4 3

The following reportable events were all of low safety significance:

Cigar Lake

  • April 28, 2019: The total suspended particulate concentration exceeded Saskatchewan guidelines due to high winds. Corrective actions were taken. Safety significance = low.
  • August 8, 2019: There was a leak of surge pond water into a secondary liner. There were no releases to the environment. Corrective actions were taken. Safety significance = low.
  • October 15, 2019: There was a spill of ferric sulfate during offloading. Corrective actions were taken. Safety significance = low.

McArthur River

  • July 3, 2019: While contaminated filter media (sand and gravel) were being unloaded from a vacuum truck onto Waste Pad #3, approximately 0.25 m3 of contaminated filter media was released to the ground. The release was cleaned up. A containment pad was constructed for unloading to prevent reoccurrence. Safety significance = low.

Key Lake

  • January 8, 2019: A leak was discovered coming from a valve on the vaporizer line on ammonia Storage Tank #3 by the mill. All liquid ammonia had been transferred out of the tank in 2018 as part of the maintenance and repairs to the ammonia tanks. Although no release volume could be estimated, it was expected that it had been very low. The likely cause was deterioration of the valve packing and gaskets caused by anhydrous ammonia absorbing water. Cameco implemented plans to replace all valves on all 3 ammonia tanks. Safety significance = low.
  • March 3, 2019: A liquid propane distribution flexible hose failed on Pump #2 leading from the acid plant propane tank farm to the vaporizer house. No release volume could be estimated. However, daily propane tank level checks indicated no increase in consumption compared with routine operation, which indicated that the release volume was relatively low. Cameco staff reviewed the event at a site-wide safety meeting. Safety significance = low.
  • July 9, 2019: A leak developed on a propane regulator within the mill terrace vaporizer building. This resulted in propane gas levels exceeding the explosive limit localized around the regulator within the building. The leak duration exceeded 10 minutes. No release volume could be estimated as there was no measurable decrease in propane tank volume. CNSC staff considered that the event itself was of low significance. However, this event was also identified as a potential dangerous occurrence. Cameco staff reviewed the event at a site-wide safety meeting. Safety significance = low.
  • November 16, 2019: A pressure relief valve failed on Mill Terrace Leaching Vaporizer #2. The valve failure resulted in a release of approximately 198 m3 of propane gas to the atmosphere. CNSC staff determined that the event itself was of low safety significance. However, its potential as a dangerous occurrence was also identified. The event was reviewed at the site‑wide safety meeting and by the site’s Occupational Health Committee members. The pressure relief valve was replaced with a different model that will allow the vapour to vent upwards should the valve open. Two additional valves were also replaced so that the vent direction points upwards. Safety significance = low.

McClean Lake

  • January 31, 2019: During start-up of the sulphuric acid (SO2) plant, the 1‑hour average ambient SO2 concentration exceeded both the maximum authorized concentration and the action level. The 24-hour average concentration, which uses a rolling average, also exceeded both the maximum authorized concentration and the action level. Corrective actions were taken. Safety significance = low.
  • March 23, 2019: During repair work at the base of the cleanup thickener feed surge tank, it was noticed that the damage within the concrete slab extended down the side of the tank base. The damaged concrete was removed and the area sealed with new concrete to prevent future releases. Safety significance = low.
  • August 25, 2019: Treated effluent from Pond C was discharged into Sink Reservoir with a total suspended solids (TSS) concentration of 18.9 mg/L. The action level for treated effluent discharge for TSS is 12.0 mg/L. The discharge was stopped and the remainder of the pond was recycled to the TMF. Corrective actions were taken. Safety significance = low.

CNSC staff have inspected all corrective actions and are satisfied that Cameco and Orano have responded appropriately to the incidents and implemented appropriate corrective actions in response to each event.

Update on a previously reported event

Following up on a Key Lake groundwater report from December 2018, after a review of groundwater monitoring data, Cameco reported that an onsite monitoring well showed an increase in uranium concentrations. Cameco completed an investigation and confirmed the contamination. An initial event report was discussed at a Commission meeting on May 15, 2019. A complete facility assessment report was prepared and submitted to the CNSC in March 2020. The assessment confirmed that the contamination was limited in geographic extent; there were no impacts and no immediate risks to the surrounding environment. Cameco is using the assessment in order to develop a corrective action plan, which is expected to be submitted to the CNSC in late 2020.

5.2 Public information and disclosure programs

CNSC REGDOC-3.2.1, Public Information and Disclosure, sets out the requirements for public information and disclosure. The primary goal of the program is to ensure that information related to the health, safety and security of persons and the environment, and other issues associated with the lifecycle of nuclear facilities, is shared with the public in a format relevant to the audience. The program includes a commitment and protocol for ongoing, timely dissemination of information related to the licensed facility.

CNSC staff determined that the public information and disclosure programs implemented by the licensees, Cameco and Orano, complied with REGDOC-3.2.1, and that the licensees provided regular information on the status of their facilities to their audiences. CNSC staff met with both licensees to discuss elements of their programs and plans for future communications initiatives.

CNSC staff participated in various meetings and local community events in 2019 to offer two‑way discussion, clarity and explanation of the regulatory process and scientific data to key audiences interested in the UMM facilities in northern Saskatchewan. In addition, CNSC staff regularly participated in meetings with the Northern Saskatchewan Environmental Quality Committee (EQC) as well as with various other communities.

CNSC staff concluded that Cameco and Orano continued to implement their respective public information and disclosure programs to ensure their audiences are receiving the appropriate information at the right time in a way that is meaningful to the community. In 2019, both licensees provided pertinent information related to health, safety and the environment through various methods including face-to-face meetings, web updates, a social media presence and community tours. 

5.3 Indigenous consultation and engagement

As an agent of the Government of Canada and as Canada’s nuclear regulator, the CNSC recognizes and understands the importance of consulting and building relationships with Indigenous peoples in Canada. CNSC staff are committed to building long-term relationships with Indigenous groups interested in CNSC-regulated facilities within their traditional and/or treaty territories. By pursuing informative and collaborative ongoing interactions, the CNSC’s goal is to build partnerships and trust. The CNSC’s Indigenous engagement practices, which include information sharing and funding support (through the CNSC’s Participant Funding Program (PFP)) to assist Indigenous peoples to meaningfully participate in Commission proceedings and ongoing regulatory activities, are consistent with the principles of upholding the honour of the Crown and reconciliation.

CNSC consultation and engagement activities

The operating UMM facilities in Canada fall within the traditional and/or treaty territories of many Indigenous communities (see the list below). CNSC staff efforts in 2019 supported the CNSC’s ongoing commitment to meeting its consultation obligations and building relationships with Indigenous peoples interested in Canada’s UMM facilities. CNSC staff continued to work with Indigenous communities and organizations to identify opportunities for formalized and regular engagement throughout the lifecycle of these facilities, including meetings and facilitated workshops. CNSC staff met with Indigenous communities to discuss areas of interest including Cameco’s McArthur River, Cigar Lake, Rabbit Lake and Key Lake Operations, as well as Orano’s McClean Lake Operation.

In addition, CNSC staff carried out engagement activities with Indigenous groups in 2019. Among their activities, CNSC staff:

  • participated in meetings of the EQC on July 9 and 10, and September 4, 2019
  • participated in the Saskatchewan Mining Association Annual Conference and environmental forum
  • participated in meetings with the English River First Nation, Clearwater River Dene Nation and Behchoko, as well as in the community of Patuanak
  • hosted a meeting in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan with Indigenous communities and groups to provide information and seek feedback on the 2018 UMM regulatory oversight report
  • participated in meetings with Indigenous groups to provide information on this 2019 regulatory oversight report
  • sent a notice of the PFP opportunity for this report to all potentially interested Indigenous groups

In response to recommendations from the Commission, CNSC staff took an additional initiative in 2019 to meet with Indigenous groups and communities before the public consultation period to provide information and seek opportunity for improvement on the regulatory oversight report. In addition, using feedback from the Indigenous engagement, CNSC staff developed a plain language overview and included it in the 2018 UMM report. First Nation and Métis communities interested in Canada’s UMM facilities will be provided a copy of this 2019 report for review. Through the CNSC’s PFP, financial support will be made available for participation in the review of this report.

CNSC staff will continue to engage and update interested Indigenous communities on regulatory activities and are committed to continuing to meet, in order to provide key updates and answer any questions that Indigenous communities and groups may have regarding nuclear activities and projects in their territories of interest.

Licensee engagement activities

In 2019, CNSC staff continued to monitor the engagement work conducted by the UMM licensees (Cameco and Orano) to ensure that they actively engage and communicate with Indigenous groups who are interested in their facilities. CNSC staff confirmed that the licensees have well-established Indigenous engagement and outreach programs and engage with Indigenous groups who are interested in their facilities.

Throughout this reporting period, UMM licensees continued to host meetings and to discuss their operations with Indigenous communities, and invited them to participate on tours, information sessions and facilitated workshops. As well, they regularly participated in EQC meetings along with the Province of Saskatchewan and CNSC staff. Indigenous communities are heavily engaged in the activities associated with UMM operations as employees and suppliers, with northern mines being one of the largest employers of Indigenous peoples in Canada. CNSC staff continued to be satisfied with the level and quality of Indigenous engagement conducted by the licensees in relation to their UMM operations in northern Saskatchewan.

CNSC staff have identified Indigenous communities and groups with traditional and/or treaty territories in proximity to operating UMM facilities:

  • Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (AB)
  • Clearwater River Dene Nation (SK)
  • English River First Nation (SK)
  • Buffalo River Dene Nation (SK)
  • Birch Narrows Dene Nation (SK)
  • Lac La Ronge Indian Band (SK)
  • Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (SK)
  • Pinehouse Kineepik Métis Local (SK)
  • Prince Albert Grand Council (SK)
  • Hatchet Lake First Nation (SK)
  • Black Lake First Nation (SK)
  • Fond du Lac First Nation (SK)
  • Ya’thi Néné Lands and Resources Office (SK)

5.4 CNSC Independent Environmental Monitoring Program

No independent environmental monitoring activities took place around the 5 operating UMM sites in 2019. Results from previous IEMP sampling campaigns are available on the CNSC’s website.

6. Overall Conclusions

CNSC staff conclude that the Cigar Lake, McArthur River, Rabbit Lake, Key Lake and McClean Lake facilities operated safely in 2019. They base this conclusion on assessments of licensee activities that included site inspections, reviews of reports submitted by licensees, and event and incident reviews, supported by follow-up and general communication with the licensee.

For 2019, CNSC staff rated the performance in all 14 SCAs as “satisfactory”.

CNSC staff’s compliance activities confirmed that at all UMM licenced facilities:

  • radiation protection programs adequately controlled radiation exposures, keeping doses ALARA
  • environmental protection programs were effective in protecting the public and the environment
  • conventional health and safety programs continued to protect workers

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, it has challenged the normal approach to regulatory oversight because of the need to eliminate travel to the operating sites in an effort to minimize risk of transmission. Licensees implemented business continuity plans, moved operating facilities to a safe shutdown state and reduced onsite workforce to essential workers. In addition, the licensees implemented protective barriers around workspaces, and enhanced hygiene practices, screening protocols and physical distancing requirements to help contain the spread of the virus.

CNSC staff have continued to exercise regulatory oversight at all sites and there was no impact by the pandemic on the conduct of reviews. CNSC staff inspect the sites using a combination of remote and onsite methods; they conduct desktop reviews of licensee reports and submissions and continue remote engagement with applicants, licensees and Indigenous groups.

Moving forward, CNSC staff will continue to provide regulatory oversight at all UMM facilities to ensure that Cameco and Orano continue to make adequate provision to protect the health, safety and security of workers, Canadians and the environment, and continue to implement Canada’s international obligations on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Appendix A: List of Inspections at UMM Facilities

UMM inspections – 2019
Facility Inspection Dates SCAs covered Non-compliances
Key Lake Operation

CAMECO-KL-2019-01

Compliance Inspection – Care and Maintenance Activities

January
28–29
  • Management system
  • Fitness for service
  • Environmental protection
  • Radiation protection
  • Conventional health and safety
  • Human performance management
  • Emergency management and fire protection
  • Waste management
2

CAMECO-KL-2019-02

Compliance Inspection – General

April
1–4
  • Fitness for service
  • Operating performance
  • Radiation protection
  • Human performance management
  • Emergency management and fire protection
  • Waste management
2

CAMECO-KL-2019-03

Compliance Inspection – General

October
21–23
  • Management system
  • Operating performance
  • Fitness for service
  • Radiation protection
  • Conventional health and safety
  • Environmental protection
  • Emergency management and fire protection
  • Waste management
  • Security
  • Packaging and transport
2
Rabbit Lake Operation

CAMECO-RL-2019-01

Compliance Inspection – General

February
26–28
  • Operating performance
  • Radiation protection
  • Conventional health and safety
  • Environmental protection
0

CAMECO-RL-2019-02

Compliance Inspection – Fitness for Service

April
9–11
  • Fitness for service
0

CAMECO-RL-2019-03

Compliance Inspection – General

August
27–29
  • Environmental protection
  • Waste management
0
Cigar Lake Operation

CAMECO-CIG-2019-01

Compliance Inspection – General

February
19–21
  • Fitness for service
  • Safety analysis
  • Physical design
  • Waste management
  • Operating performance
0

CAMECO-CIG-2019-02

Compliance Inspection – General

March
18–20
  • Management system
  • Fitness for service
  • Radiation protection
  • Conventional health and safety
0

CAMECO-CIG-2019-03

Compliance Inspection – General

May
21–23
  • Environmental protection
  • Radiation protection
  • Conventional health and safety
1

CAMECO-CIG-2019-04

Compliance Inspection – Management System

August
13–15
  • Management system
1

CAMECO-CIG-2019-05

Compliance Inspection – Radiation Protection

August
13–15
  • Radiation protection
2

CAMECO-CIG-2019-06

Compliance Inspection – General

October
22–24
  • Fitness for service
  • Conventional health and safety
  • Human performance management
  • Emergency management and fire protection

Packaging and transport

2
McArthur River Operation

CAMECO-MR-2019-01

Compliance Inspection – Care and Maintenance Activities

January
30–31
  • Management system
  • Fitness for service
  • Environmental protection
  • Radiation protection
  • Conventional health and safety
  • Human performance management
  • Emergency management and fire protection
1

CAMECO-MR-2019-02

Compliance Inspection – General

June
17–20
  • Management system
  • Fitness for service
  • Operating performance
  • Physical design
  • Radiation protection
  • Conventional health and safety
  • Waste management
  • Security
0

CAMECO-MR-2019-03

Compliance Inspection – Waste Management

July
22–25
  • Waste management
  • Environmental protection
  • Radiation protection
2

CAMECO-MR-2019-04

Compliance Inspection – Training / Human Performance

December
2–5
  • Human performance management
  • Fitness for service
  • Conventional health and safety
4
McClean Lake Operation

ORANO-ML-2019-01

Compliance Inspection – General

March
20–21
  • Management system
  • Fitness for service
  • Radiation protection
  • Conventional health and safety
1

ORANO-ML-2019-02

Compliance Inspection – General

June
25–27
  • Fitness for service
  • Conventional health and safety
  • Packaging and transport
1

ORANO-ML-2019-03

Compliance Inspection – Environmental Protection

July
16–18
  • Environmental protection
1

ORANO-ML-2019-04

Compliance Inspection – Emergency Management and Fire Protection

September
11–12
  • Emergency management and fire protection
0
Compliance inspections at uranium mines and mills, 2014 to 2019
Year Inspections Non-compliances
2014 24 31
2015 30 37
2016 30 41
2017 30 23
2018 26 31
2019 20 18

Appendix B: Licence and Licence Conditions Handbook Changes

This appendix presents information on any licence and licence conditions handbook (LCH) changes during 2019.

Facility Licence Licence changes LCH changes
Cigar Lake Operation UML-MINE-CIGAR.00/2021 No changes in 2019 No changes in 2019
McArthur River Operation UML-MINE-MCARTHUR.01/2023 Licence amendment request to update financial guarantee granted, June 2019 (CMD 19-H105) New LCH issued February 2020 to reflect licence issued in June 2019
Rabbit Lake Operation UMOL-MINEMILL-RABBIT.00/2023 No changes in 2019 No changes in 2019
Key Lake Operation UMLOL-MILL-KEY.00/2023 No changes in 2019 No changes in 2019
McClean Lake Operation UMOL-MINEMILL-McCLEAN.01/2027 No changes in 2019 No changes in 2019

Appendix C: Regulatory Document Implementation

Regulatory document Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
REGDOC-2.2.2, Personnel Training, December 2016 To be implemented as part of 2021 licence renewal Implementation to be completed June 2022 Implementation to be completed June 2022 Implementation to be completed June 2022 Implemented
REGDOC-2.10.1, Nuclear Emergency Preparedness and Response, February 2017 To be implemented as part of 2021 licence renewal To be implemented as part of next LCH update To be implemented as part of 2020 licence amendment To be implemented as part of 2020 licence amendment Implemented
REGDOC-2.9.1, Environmental Protection: Environmental Principles, Assessments and Protection Measures, April 2017 Implementation plan to be submitted in 2020 Implementation plan to be submitted in 2020 Implementation plan to be submitted in 2020 Implementation plan to be submitted in 2020 Implementation plan to be submitted in  2020
REGDOC-1.6.1, Licence Application Guide: Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices, May 2017 To be implemented as part of 2021 licence renewal Implemented To be implemented as part of 2020 licence amendment To be implemented as part of 2020 licence amendment Implemented
REGDOC-3.1.2, Reporting Requirements, Volume I: Non-Power Reactor Class I Nuclear Facilities and Uranium Mines and Mills, January 2018 To be implemented as part of 2021 licence renewal Implemented To be implemented as part of 2020 licence amendment To be implemented as part of 2020 licence amendment Implementation to be completed June 2022
REGDOC-2.13.1, Safeguards and Nuclear Material Accountancy, February 2018 To be implemented as part of 2021 licence renewal To be implemented as part of next LCH update To be implemented as part of 2020 licence amendment To be implemented as part of 2020 licence amendment Implemented
REGDOC-2.5.4, Design of Uranium Mines and Mills: Ventilation Systems, March 2018 To be implemented as part of 2021 licence renewal Implemented To be implemented as part of 2020 licence amendment To be implemented as part of 2020 licence amendment Implemented
REGDOC-2.1.2, Safety Culture, April 2018 Implementation to be completed June 2022 Implementation to be completed June 2022 Implementation to be completed June 2022 Implementation to be completed June 2022 Implementation plan to be submitted in 2020
REGDOC-3.2.1, Public Information and Disclosure, May 2018 Implementation plan to be submitted in 2020 Implementation plan to be submitted in 2020 Implementation plan to be submitted in 2020 Implementation plan to be submitted in 2020 Implementation plan to be submitted in 2020
REGDOC-2.11.1, Waste Management, Volume III: Assessing the Long-Term Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, May 2018 Not applicable Not applicable Implementation plan to be submitted in January 2020
REGDOC-2.11.1, Waste Management, Volume II: Management of Uranium Mine Waste Rock and Mill Tailings, November 2018 To be implemented as part of 2021 licence renewal To be implemented as part of 2020 licence amendment To be implemented as part of 2020 licence amendment Implementation plan to be submitted in January 2020

Appendix D: Safety and Control Area Ratings

Safety and control area summary, all mines: 2017 to 2019
Safety and control areas 2017 2018 2019
Management system SA SA SA
Human performance management SA SA SA
Operating performance SA SA SA
Safety analysis SA SA SA
Physical design SA SA SA
Fitness for service SA SA SA
Radiation protection SA SA SA
Conventional health and safety SA SA SA
Environmental protection SA SA SA
Emergency management and fire protection SA SA SA
Waste management SA SA SA
Security SA SA SA
Safeguards and non-proliferation SA SA SA
Packaging and transport SA SA SA

SA = satisfactory, BE = below expectations

Appendix E: Environmental Performance at UMM Facilities

The following tables summarize information publicly available in licensees’ annual reports. The numbers were provided by the licensees and were not directly measured by CNSC staff. The numbers reported amalgamate all 5 facilities in individual tables to provide an easy comparison of the annual load of key radionuclides directly released to the atmosphere or to surface waters from licensed UMM facilities operated by Cameco and Orano.

Over this reporting period, there were no exceedances of licence limits.

Total annual release of relevant radionuclides to the environment

Saskatchewan’s licensed effluent maximum monthly mean discharge limits are 0.6 mg/L and 2.5 mg/L for selenium and uranium, respectively.

The CNSC has identified an interim objective for uranium of 0.1 mg/L based on available technology. The interim objective for uranium in effluent is in place while the CNSC develops requirements release limits in REGDOC-2.9.2, which is currently undergoing internal CNSC review.

Selenium in treated effluent, 2019
Selenium
(annual mean)
Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
mg/L 0.0041 0.0024 0.0023 0.0100 0.0370
% regulatory limit* 0.7 0.4 0.4 1.7 6.2

* Provincial licence effluent discharge limit: 0.6 mg/L

Selenium in treated effluent (mg/L), 2014 to 2018
Year Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
2014 0.0010 0.0024 0.0042 0.0180 0.0007
2015 0.0041 0.0025 0.0042 0.0180 0.0092
2016 0.0062 0.0037 0.0035 0.0170 0.0210
2017 0.0042 0.0036 0.0024 0.0150 0.0110
2018 0.0044 0.0023 0.0026 0.0100 0.0210
Uranium in treated effluent, 2019 (CNSC interim objective 0.1 mg/L)
Uranium
(annual mean)
Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
mg/L 0.0004 0.0086 0.0270 0.0243 0.0050
% regulatory limit* < 1 < 1 1 1 < 1

* Provincial licence effluent discharge limit: 2.5 mg/L

Uranium in treated effluent (mg/L), 2014 to 2018
Year Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
2014 0.0166 0.0095 0.0460 0.0060 0.0018
2015 0.0594 0.0089 0.0520 0.0080 0.0042
2016 0.0063 0.0055 0.0730 0.0060 0.0040
2017 0.0018 0.0056 0.0700 0.0110 0.0040
2018 0.0005 0.0071 0.0320 0.0130 0.0070

In the absence of federal or provincial effluent discharge limits for molybdenum, the CNSC requires licensees to develop facility-specific effluent controls within their environmental protection program codes of practice. The Key Lake action level of 0.6 mg/L for molybdenum is a stringent measure that the CNSC uses for the 5 operations. As a point of reference, for the last 6 years, including 2019, molybdenum average effluent concentrations for all 5 facilities were below the Key Lake code of practice action level.

Molybdenum in treated effluent, 2019 (Key Lake action level of 0.6 mg/L is used)
Molybdenum Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
mg/L 0.1069 0.0120 0.1590 0.0500 0.0020
Molybdenum in treated effluent (mg/L), 2014 to 2018
Year Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
2014 0.0360 0.1865 0.2820 0.1600 0.0024
2015 0.0763 0.1458 0.2680 0.1000 0.0024
2016 0.0369 0.1851 0.2730 0.0800 0.0020
2017 0.0640 0.1460 0.1390 0.1200 0.0040
2018 0.1030 0.0164 0.1800 0.0700 0.0030

UMM facilities also analyze treated effluent for concentrations of other regulated contaminants and contaminants of potential concern (COPCs) such as arsenic, copper, lead, nickel, zinc, total suspended solids (TSS) and pH. The Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations (MDMER) apply to all metal mines and mills in Canada under the federal Fisheries Act. The CNSC incorporates the effluent limit requirements of the MDMER into UMM licences.

Annual average COPC concentration in effluent, 2019
2019 MDMER discharge limits Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
Arsenic (mg/L) 0.5 0.0952 0.0009 0.0009 0.0075 0.058
Copper (mg/L) 0.3 0.0014 0.0010 0.0002 0.001 0.002
Lead (mg/L) 0.2 0.0002 0.0009 0.0001 0.0003 0.0006
Nickel (mg/L) 0.5 0.0013 0.0034 0.0013 0.142 0.0150
Zinc (mg/L) 0.5 0.0232 0.0033 0.0007 0.007 0.0030
TSS (mg/L) 15 2 1 1 2 2
pH 6.0–9.5 7.32 7.49 7.19 6.60 7.2
Annual average COPC concentration in effluent, 2018
2018 MDMER discharge limits Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
Arsenic (mg/L) 0.5 0.0603 0.0009 0.0009 0.0080 0.0300
Copper (mg/L) 0.3 0.0008 0.0010 0.0003 0.0050 0.0030
Lead (mg/L) 0.2 0.0002 0.0009 0.0001 0.0100 0.0028
Nickel (mg/L) 0.5 0.0009 0.0031 0.0015 0.2570 0.0130
Zinc (mg/L) 0.5 0.0271 0.0014 0.0006 0.0090 0.0030
TSS (mg/L) 15 1 1 1 2 2
pH 6.0–9.5 7.3 7.5 7.3 6.7 7.2

Operating UMM facilities in northern Saskatchewan have process waters, which require capture, treatment and release through a final point of control.

Releases for total uranium are reported in kilograms (kg) while releases of uranium U‑238 progeny are reported in megabecquerels (MBq). 

CNSC staff have commenced publishing annual releases of radionuclides to the environment from nuclear facilities on the CNSC Open Government Portal.

Radionuclides in ambient air, 2019
2019 Reference annual air quality levels Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
Pb-210 (Bq/m3) 0.021 1 0.0003 0.0003 0.0002 0.0003 0.0003
Ra-226 (Bq/m3) 0.013 1 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0001 0.0000
Th-230 (Bq/m3) 0.0085 1 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0001 0.0000
U (µg/m3) 0.06 2 0.0010 0.0001 0.0001 0.0008 0.0025
Radionuclides in ambient air, 2014 to 2018
Cigar Lake Reference annual air quality levels 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Pb-210 (Bq/m3) 0.021 1 0.00025 0.000315 0.000305 0.00036 0.00037
Ra-226 (Bq/m3) 0.013 1 0.000008 0.000014 0.000020 0.000030 0.000026
Th-230 (Bq/m3) 0.0085 1 0.00001 0.000014 0.000012 0.000023 0.000018
U (µg/m3) 0.06 2 0.00008 0.00055 0.00113 0.00151 0.00103
McArthur River Reference annual air quality levels 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Pb-210 (Bq/m3) 0.021 1 0.00032 0.00032 0.0002 0.0004 0.0003
Ra-226 (Bq/m3) 0.013 1 0.00002 0.00001 0.00004 0.00001 0.00001
Th-230 (Bq/m3) 0.0085 1 0.00001 0.00002 0.0001 0.0001 0.00001
U (µg/m3) 0.06 2 0.0005 0.0003 0.0004 0.0003 0.0001
Rabbit Lake Reference annual air quality levels 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Pb-210 (Bq/m3) 0.021 1 0.000013 0.000015 0.000011 0.000013 0.000015
Ra-226 (Bq/m3) 0.013 1 0.000002 0.000001 0.000002 0.000004 0.0000002
Th-230 (Bq/m3) 0.0085 1 0.000003 0.000001 0.000002 0.000004 0.0000003
U (µg/m3) 0.06 2 0.001960 0.002341 0.000899 0.000190 0.000277
Key Lake Reference annual air quality levels 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Pb-210 (Bq/m3) 0.021 1 0.00044 0.0003 0.0003 0.0004 0.0002
Ra-226 (Bq/m3) 0.013 1 0.00022 0.0001 0.0001 0.0003 0.0001
Th-230 (Bq/m3) 0.0085 1 0.00022 0.0001 0.0001 0.0002 0.0001
U (µg/m3) 0.06 2 0.00794 0.0080 0.0076 0.0091 0.0012
McClean Lake Reference annual air quality levels 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Pb-210 (Bq/m3) 0.021 1 0.000277 0.000271 0.000285 0.000309 0.000253
Ra-226 (Bq/m3) 0.013 1 0.000010 0.000008 0.000009 0.000014 0.000022
Th-230 (Bq/m3) 0.0085 1 0.000005 0.000005 0.000005 0.000006 0.000004
U (µg/m3) 0.06 2 0.000576 0.001319 0.003138 0.002029 0.001654

1 The reference level is derived from International Commission of Radiological Protection (ICRP) Publication 96. Protecting People Against Radiation Exposure in the Event of a Radiological Attack.

2 The reference annual air quality levels are derived from Ontario 24-hour Ambient Air Quality Criteria (2012).

For comparison and context within the broader context of mining in Canada, the following table summarizes environmental information compiled by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The same standards are used to regulate all mining sectors.

Treated effluent comparison to metal mining sectors in Canada, 2016*
Mining sector # of mines Number of mines out of compliance with at least 1 parameter Number of mines out of compliance by parameter
Total suspended solids Arsenic Copper Lead Nickel Zinc Radium-226 pH range
Uranium 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Base metal 47 10 6 0 0 0 1 0 0 3
Precious metal 54 6 4 0 0 0 0 0 2 1
Iron 8 5 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 3

* Environment and Climate Change Canada; 2016 is the most current data available.

Appendix F: Doses to Nuclear Energy Workers and Non-Nuclear Energy Workers at UMM Facilities

This appendix presents information on doses to nuclear energy workers (NEWs) at UMM facilities.

Average individual effective dose, 2019 (Annual regulatory limit is 50 mSv to NEWs)
Average Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
mSv 0.57 0.33 0.75 0.27 0.93
# of NEWS 875 136 119 260 323
Average individual effective dose (mSv), 2014 to 2018
Year Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
2014 0.16 1.03 1.35 0.63 0.37
2015 0.45 1.00 1.36 0.55 0.89
2016 0.39 0.85 0.85 0.62 1.04
2017 0.34 0.79 0.40 0.66 0.91
2018 0.47 0.15 0.46 0.19 0.90
Maximum individual effective dose, 2019 (Annual regulatory limit is 50 mSv to NEWs)
Maximum Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
mSv 3.70 2.82 2.73 1.64 4.70
% regulatory limit 7 6 5 3 9
Maximum individual effective dose (mSv), 2014 to 2018
Year Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
2014 2.04 7.91 8.84 6.21 2.03
2015 5.99 7.40 9.14 7,56 5.28
2016 5.53 7.02 4.95 5.37 6.94
2017 3.36 5.73 1.56 5.39 5.12
2018 7.28 2.67 1.70 2.02 5.50

Appendix G: Total Recordable Incident Frequency

This appendix contains information on the number, frequency and severity of recordable lost-time injuries at UMM facilities covered by this regulatory oversight report.

Frequency and severity are calculated per 100 full-time workers (equivalent to 200,000 worker-hours per year) using the following formulas:

Frequency rate = (# of lost-time injuries) x (200,000 hours of exposure) / (person hours worked)

Severity rate = (# of working days lost) x (200,000 hours of exposure) / (person hours worked)

2019 Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
Number of LTIs1 0 0 1 0 3
LTI severity rate2 0 0 100 0 48
LTI frequency rate3 0 0 1.05 0 0.90
Total recordable incident frequency (TRIF)4 1.67 2.12 2.10 2.22 3.15
2018 Cigar Lake McArthur River Rabbit Lake Key Lake McClean Lake
Number of LTIs1 0 0 0 0 1
LTI severity rate2 0 23.2 0 0 4.8
LTI frequency rate3 0 0 0 0 0.3
Total recordable incident frequency (TRIF)4 1.0 5.02 5.03 2.59 0.75

1 An injury that takes place at work and results in the worker being unable to return to work for a period of time.

2 A measure of the total number of days lost to injury for every 200,000 person-hours worked at the facility.

Accident severity rate = [(# of days lost in last 12 months) / (# of hours worked in last 12 months)] x 200,000.

3 A measure of the number of LTIs for every 200,000 person-hours worked at the facility.

Accident frequency rate = [(# of injuries in last 12 months) / (# of hours worked in last 12 months)] x 200,000.

4 A measure of the number of fatalities, lost-time injuries, and other injuries requiring medical treatment for every 200,000 person-hours worked at the facility.

Recordable incident rate = [(#incidents in last 12 months) / # hours worked in last 12 months)] x 200,000.

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