Independent Environmental Monitoring Program: BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. - Peterborough
|BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. Peterborough
|BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc., formerly GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada
|BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. Peterborough
|The CNSC would like to acknowledge that BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. Peterborough is located on the Treaty 20 Michi Saagiig territory and on the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig and Chippewa Nations, collectively known as the Williams Treaties First Nations, which include Curve Lake, Hiawatha, Alderville, Scugog Island, Rama, Beausoleil, and Georgina Island First Nations.
|BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. began operations in 1955. The licensee operates 2 Class IB nuclear facilities under 2 site-specific licences to manufacture CANDU nuclear fuel bundles. These are for use at Ontario Power Generation’s Pickering and Darlington nuclear generating stations. The Peterborough facility manufactures nuclear fuel bundles from uranium dioxide fuel pellets made in Toronto, and zircalloy tubes manufactured in-house under a CNSC licence. This facility also uses beryllium as part of its operations involving the manufacture of zircalloy tubes.
|Environmental protection requirements
|BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. Peterborough maintains a comprehensive environmental protection program to monitor and control radiological (nuclear) and hazardous substances released from the facility, determine concentrations of contaminants in the environment, and assess exposure to the public.
The Independent Environmental Monitoring Program (IEMP) results from 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2021 show that the ambient environment surrounding BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. Peterborough (BWXT Peterborough) is within provincial guidelines, confirming that the licensee’s environmental protection program is effective. The results add to the body of evidence that people and the environment in the vicinity of the BWXT Peterborough facility are protected and that there are no anticipated health impacts.
- Interactive map
- Data table Download CSV (16.1 Kb)
- Results: (2021) (2020) (2014, 2018 and 2019)
- Video: Introduction to the IEMP
- Frequently asked questions
BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. - Peterborough
1 The < symbol indicates that a result is below the provided laboratory analytical detection limit.
2 N/A – not available
3 For soil samples, the CNSC laboratory began using the partial digestion method as opposed to the total digestion method used before 2020. This change was made so that the 2020 results could be compared with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment guidelines. As a result, soil concentrations are lower than in previous years.
The 2021 IEMP sampling plan for the BWXT Peterborough facility focused on both radioactive and hazardous substances. Uranium is both a radioactive substance (it decays at a slow rate by primarily emitting alpha radiation and, at lower levels, beta and gamma radiation) and a hazardous substance (since exposure to uranium can lead to chemical toxicity). Beryllium is a hazardous substance (can impact health if inhaled) used in the fuel bundle manufacturing process. A site-specific sampling plan was developed based on the licensee’s approved environmental protection program and our regulatory experience with the site. We endeavour to incorporate traditional Indigenous land use, values and knowledge by engaging with Indigenous Nations and communities on the sampling plan. More information on this engagement is provided in the “Indigenous Nations and communities’ participation” section.
In 2021, we collected water, soil and air samples in publicly accessible areas outside the facility perimeter. The levels of uranium and beryllium measured in the samples were below available guidelines. Measurements conducted by the IEMP to date have consistently found levels of radioactivity in the environment to be low, and well within the range of natural background radiation levels. The concentrations of beryllium in soil collected around the BWXT Peterborough facility remain well below guidelines. As a result, no health or environmental impacts are expected at these concentrations.
Further to the BWXT licence renewal hearing in March 2020, the CNSC conducted soil resampling for beryllium, as directed by the Commission, at sites adjacent to BWXT’s Peterborough facility. The soil samples were analyzed at the CNSC lab, and the results did not indicate any significant changes in concentrations of beryllium in the soil in Peterborough. The CNSC provided a supplemental submission on the resampling results for the Commission’s consideration in BWXT’s licence renewal request.
2014, 2018 and 2019 results
The 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 (it decays at a slow rate by emitting gamma radiation) and a hazardous substance (since 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, July 2018, and May 2019, CNSC staff collected air, soil, and water samples in areas outside the BWXT Peterborough site perimeter. The levels of uranium and beryllium measured in the samples were below available guidelines.
Indigenous Nations and communities’ participation
We have made it a priority to ensure that IEMP sampling reflects Indigenous traditional knowledge, land use and values where possible. In addition to routine IEMP sampling activities, we seek input from local Indigenous Nations and communities on our IEMP sampling plans.
In advance of the 2021 IEMP sampling campaign at BWXT Peterborough, notification emails were sent to Indigenous Nations and communities near the facility to notify them of the sampling campaign and to seek input on the sampling plan. Curve Lake First Nation (CLFN) joined us to observe sampling for a day. Having CLFN representatives observe as we conduct sampling promotes a better understanding of sampling methods and locations and improves input into future sampling in terms of CFLN species of interest, valued components, and potential sampling locations.
We will continue to engage with interested Indigenous Nations and communities to ensure that IEMP sampling incorporates Indigenous knowledge in future campaigns.
Focus on health
We take a weight of evidence approach when assessing risk. We review the results of existing health reports and conduct health studies to provide further independent verification that the health of people in and around BWXT Peterborough are protected.
In Canada, several studies have been carried out in Port Hope, Ontario, due to the historical and current presence of the nuclear industry in the town, where the uranium refining, processing and fabrication industry has existed since 1932. The findings are consistent with research studies conducted in other countries. Studies have consistently demonstrated that people who live near uranium processing facilities, such as BWXT, are as healthy as the rest of the general population. Access our library of health studies and third-party research.
Based on exposure and health data, we have not observed and do not expect any adverse health outcomes resulting from the presence of BWXT Peterborough.
If you would like more general health information and data for your community, please visit the following websites:
Our IEMP results from 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2021 are below federal and provincial guidelines. The results add to the body of evidence that people and the environment in the vicinity of BWXT Peterborough are protected and that there are no anticipated health impacts.
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