Assessment of Risks to Human Health and the Environment From Hazardous Substances in Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities in Canada
Abstract of the technical paper presented at:
International Workshop on Chemical Hazards in Fuel Cycle Facilities Nuclear Processing Boulogne-Billancourt, France
April 17–19, 2018
Prepared by: Hemendra Mulye
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
The CNSC regulates the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect health, safety, security and the environment; to implement Canada’s international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy; and to disseminate objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public. The CNSC’s mandate, under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and its regulations, includes regulation of both nuclear and non-nuclear (hazardous) substances associated with the nuclear fuel cycle. As part of the licensing and ongoing compliance processes, assessment of risks to human health and the environment are performed, not just for radioactive materials, but also for hazardous substances, as well as all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, including but not limited to uranium mining and milling, processing, fuel conversion and fabrication, nuclear power generation, and radioactive waste management.
This presentation focuses on the CNSC’s systematic approach to assessing risks of hazardous substances to human health and the environment from nuclear fuel cycle facilities in Canada. This approach incorporates the elements outlined in Canadian Standards Association standard N288.6-12, Environmental risk assessments at Class I nuclear facilities and uranium mines and mills, published in 2012, and takes into account best practices used in Canada and internationally to protect human health and the environment.
The human health risk assessment (HHRA) focuses on identifying, quantifying and characterizing risks that may result to individual human receptors from exposure to hazardous substances released into the environment throughout the lifecycle of a nuclear fuel cycle facility. The HHRA can be done either as a standalone assessment or a component of an environmental risk assessment. Based on the results of the HHRA, further analysis and possible further action can be considered. An ecological risk assessment (EcoRA), similarly, focuses on the risks to ecological receptors (i.e., non-human biota) resulting from exposures to hazardous substances at the individual, population or community level, depending on the conservation status of the species. Based on the results of the EcoRA, further assessment and potential mitigation measures can be considered. The end product of the HHRA and the EcoRA is the basis for risk-informed recommendations (i.e., controls or mitigation) as well as for monitoring to reduce uncertainty in the risk assessment.
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