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Radiation limits imposed to protect human health

I am writing to correct misinformation in an op-ed that appeared in your April 11 edition titled "NSDF: threat to drinking water on national television". I want to assure your readers that as Canada’s independent nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) sets radiation limits to protect human health.

The CNSC imposes limits – called derived release limits (DRLs) – that restrict the amount of radioactive material that may be released to the environment by a licensed facility. These limits represent an estimate of a release that could result in a dose of at most 1 millisievert (mSv) to an exposed member of the public. This is the public radiation dose limit, which is already set conservatively to ensure health is protected. In fact, actual releases from nuclear facilities have typically been less than 10 percent of the DRL.

It is also important to point out that the CNSC is the Canadian independent nuclear regulator. It is one of only a few nuclear regulators in the world that conducts public licensing hearings, ensuring a high degree of transparency and thereby reinforcing its independence from the nuclear industry and other interested stakeholders. It makes decisions based on the most current scientific information and provides extensive reasons for those decisions.

In response to recent environmental petitions and public correspondence, the Minister of Natural Resources Canada confirmed the government’s confidence in the CNSC’s capacity and expertise to review and make nuclear project decisions.

The CNSC regulates all nuclear facilities and activities in Canada, and strives to ensure that Canadian nuclear activities are among the safest and most secure in the world.

Michael Rinker, Director General
Directorate of Environmental and Radiation Protection and Assessment

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