Independent Environmental Monitoring Program: SRB Technologies

Publication date: August 30, 2019

SRB Technologies (Canada) Inc. (SRB) is licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to operate the SRB nuclear substance processing facility, located in Pembroke, Ontario. SRB uses tritium, a nuclear substance, to develop self-luminous emergency exit signs, military applications such as landmine markers, watch dials and other safety products not requiring batteries or other external sources of power. SRB maintains a comprehensive environmental protection program to monitor and control radioactive 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 for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018 confirm that the public and the environment around the SRB facility are protected and that there are no expected health impacts.

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[ ] Guideline/Reference Level

 

SRB Technologies Points

Sample Type Sample Description Parameter 2013 Result 2014 Result 2015 Result 2018 Result Guideline/
Reference Level
Expected Health Impact (Yes/No) Sample Code
Foodstuffs Kale Tritium N/A N/A N/A N/A 104,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-F01
Foodstuffs Kales Tritium N/A 180 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A N/A 104,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-F01
Foodstuffs Tomatoes Tritium 89.63 Bq/kg fresh weight 43.2 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A N/A 123,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-F02
Foodstuffs Potatoes Tritium N/A 37 Bq/kg fresh weight 4.9 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 279,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-F03
Foodstuffs Potatoes Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A <1.5 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 121,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-F03
Foodstuffs Green Peppers Tritium N/A N/A 7.5 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 104,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-F06
Foodstuffs Green Peppers Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A <1.5 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 45,200 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-F06
Foodstuffs Strawberries Tritium 35.8 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A N/A N/A 123,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-F06
Foodstuffs Carrots Tritium 19.3 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A N/A N/A 104,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-F07
Foodstuffs Zucchinis Tritium 25.3 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A N/A N/A 104,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-F08
Foodstuffs Cucumbers Tritium 18.7 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A N/A N/A 104,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-F09
Soil Surface Tritium N/A N/A <1.5 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 64,200,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-S06
Soil Surface Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A 5.0 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 27,900,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-S06
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Tritium N/A N/A 6.4 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 10,900 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-V05
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A 9.9 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 73,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR01-V05
Soil 0 - 5 cm Tritium N/A N/A N/A 42.0 Bq/Kg 64,200,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR02-S01
Soil Surface Tritium 54.88 Bq/kg fresh weight 12.7 Bq/kg fresh weight 23.6 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 64,200,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR02-S01
Soil Surface Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A 30.5 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 27,900,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR02-S01
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Tritium 560.33 Bq/kg fresh weight 34.3 Bq/kg fresh weight 61.8 Bq/kg fresh weight 72.8 Bq/Kg 10,900 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR02-V01
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A 245.5 Bq/kg fresh weight 242.0 Bq/Kg 73,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR02-V01
Air Ambient Tritium 12 Bq/m3 2.4 Bq/m3 N/A N/A 340 Bq/m3 No SR03-A01
Air Ambient Elemental Tritium 7.7 Bq/m3 3.7 Bq/m3 N/A N/A 5,100,000 Bq/m3 No SR03-A01
Air Ambient Tritium N/A N/A 46.7 Bq/m3 <1.9 Bq/m3 340 Bq/m3 No SR03-A03
Air Ambient Elemental Tritium N/A N/A 581.7 Bq/m3 <1.9 Bq/m3 5,100,000 Bq/m3 No SR03-A03
Soil 0 - 5 cm Tritium N/A N/A N/A 61.9 Bq/Kg 64,200,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR03-S02
Soil Surface Tritium 73.43 Bq/kg fresh weight 13.7 Bq/kg fresh weight 87.1 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 64,200,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR03-S02
Soil Surface Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A 29.4 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 27,900,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR03-S02
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Tritium 177.8 Bq/kg fresh weight 48.5 Bq/kg fresh weight 328.9 Bq/kg fresh weight 119.7 Bq/Kg 10,900 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR03-V02
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A 370.7 Bq/kg fresh weight 197.4 Bq/Kg 73,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR03-V02
Foodstuffs Red Wine Tritium 10.8 Bq/L 14.6 Bq/L N/A N/A 45,100 Bq/L No SR04-F04
Soil Surface Tritium 31.52 Bq/kg fresh weight 57.2 Bq/kg fresh weight 38.0 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 64,200,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR05-S03
Soil Surface Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A 42.5 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 27,900,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR05-S03
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Tritium 101.22 Bq/kg fresh weight 130 Bq/kg fresh weight 111.1 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 10,900 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR05-V03
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A 292.4 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 73,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR05-V03
Foodstuffs Apples Tritium 93.43 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A N/A N/A 123,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR06-F10
Foodstuffs Tomatoes Tritium 68.78 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A N/A N/A 123,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR07-F11
Foodstuffs Apples Tritium 95.14 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A N/A N/A 123,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR08-F12
Foodstuffs Potatoes Tritium 84.67 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A N/A N/A 279,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR08-F13
Foodstuffs Apples Tritium 19.33 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A N/A N/A 123,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR09-F14
Foodstuffs Tomatoes Tritium 26.28 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A N/A N/A 123,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR09-F15
Food Wild Apples Tritium N/A N/A N/A 24.3 Bq/Kg 123,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR10-F21
Food Wild Apples Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A N/A 2.8 Bq/Kg 50,300 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR10-F21
Water Surface Water Tritium 6.3 Bq/L <5 Bq/L 3.1 Bq/L 3.1 Bq/L 7,000 Bq/L No SR10-W03
Water Surface Water Tritium 8.7 Bq/L <5 Bq/L <3 Bq/L N/A 7,000 Bq/L No SR11-W04
Foodstuffs Milk Tritium <1.5 Bq/kg fresh weight <1.5 Bq/kg fresh weight 1.7 Bq/kg fresh weight <2.5 Bq/Kg 5,560 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR12-F05
Foodstuffs Milk Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A <1.5 Bq/kg fresh weight <2.5 Bq/Kg 2,260 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR12-F05
Air Ambient Tritium N/A N/A 1.1 Bq/m3 <1.9 Bq/m3 340 Bq/m3 No SR13-A05
Air Ambient Elemental Tritium N/A N/A 83.5 Bq/m3 <1.9 Bq/m3 5,100,000 Bq/m3 No SR13-A05
Soil 0 - 5 cm Tritium N/A N/A N/A 4.6 Bq/Kg 64,200,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR13-S05
Soil Surface Tritium N/A N/A 20.4 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 64,200,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR13-S05
Soil Surface Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A <1.5 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 27,900,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR13-S05
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Tritium N/A N/A 31.1 Bq/kg fresh weight 13.8 Bq/Kg 10,900 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR13-V04
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A 76.6 Bq/kg fresh weight 28.1 Bq/Kg 73,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR13-V04
Food Wild Apples Tritium N/A N/A N/A 88.2 Bq/Kg 123,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR14-F07
Food Wild Apples Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A N/A 11.2 Bq/Kg 50,300 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR14-F07
Foodstuffs Wild Raspberries Tritium N/A N/A 34.1 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 123,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR14-F07
Foodstuffs Wild Raspberries Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A 11.8 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 50,300 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR14-F07
Foodstuffs Wild Apples Tritium N/A N/A 99.4 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 123,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR14-F08
Foodstuffs Wild Apples Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A 17.5 Bq/kg fresh weight N/A 50,300 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR14-F08
Water Surface Water Tritium N/A N/A <3 Bq/L <3.0 Bq/L 7,000 Bq/L No SR15-W05
Water Surface Water Tritium N/A N/A N/A <3.0 Bq/L 7,000 Bq/L No SR16-W16
Air Ambient Tritium N/A N/A 96.4 Bq/m3 <1.9 Bq/m3 340 Bq/m3 No SR17-A06
Air Ambient Elemental Tritium N/A N/A 2.0 Bq/m3 <1.9 Bq/m3 5,100,000 Bq/m3 No SR17-A06
Food Pumpkin Tritium N/A N/A N/A 6.7 Bq/Kg 123,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR18-F18
Food Pumpkin Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A N/A <2.5 Bq/Kg 50,300 Bq/Kg fresh weight No SR18-F18
Food Onion Tritium N/A N/A N/A 3.7 Bq/Kg 104,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR18-F19
Food Onion Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A N/A <2.5 Bq/Kg 45,200 Bq/Kg fresh weight No SR18-F19
Food Cucumber Tritium N/A N/A N/A <2.5 Bq/Kg 104,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR18-F20
Food Cucumber Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A N/A <2.5 Bq/Kg 45,200 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR18-F20
Soil 0 - 5 cm Tritium N/A N/A N/A <3.0 Bq/Kg 64,200,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR18-S18
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Tritium N/A N/A N/A <3.0 Bq/Kg 10,900 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR18-V18
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A N/A <2.5 Bq/Kg 73,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR18-V18
Soil 0 - 5 cm Tritium N/A N/A N/A <3.0 Bq/Kg 64,200,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR19-S19
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Tritium N/A N/A N/A 5.2 Bq/Kg 10,900 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR19-V19
Vegetation Wild Vegetation/Grass Organically Bound Tritium N/A N/A N/A 12.3 Bq/Kg 73,000 Bq/kg fresh weight No SR19-V19

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, 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 govern 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 radioactiveand hazardous substances in those samples. CNSC staff collect the samples and send them to the CNSC's independent laboratory for testing and analysis. Since the implementation of the IEMP, the area outside of the SRB facility site perimeter has been sampled in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018.

2018 results

The 2018 IEMP sampling plan for the SRB facility focused on radioactive contaminants. A site-specific sampling plan was developed based on SRB's approved environmental monitoring program, CSA Group standards and the CNSC's regulatory experience with the site. In 2018, samples were collected in publicly accessible areas outside the SRB facility site perimeter and included water, soil, vegetation, air, food such as milk, and produce from local farms. View detailed sampling data.

The radioactivity measured in water, soil, vegetation, air and food samples were below available guidelines and CNSC screening levels. CNSC screening levels are based on conservative assumptions about the exposure that would result in a dose of 0.1 mSv/year. No health impacts are expected at this dose level.

2015, 2014 and 2013 results

The 2015, 2014 and 2013 IEMP sampling plan for the SRB facility site focused on radioactive contaminants. A site-specific sampling plan was developed based on SRB's approved environmental monitoring program, CSA Group standards and the CNSC's regulatory experience with the site. Samples were collected in publicly accessible areas outside the SRB facility site perimeter and included water, soil and vegetation, air, and food such as milk, fruits and vegetables from local farms. View detailed sampling data.

The radioactivity measured in water, soil, vegetation, air and food samples were below available guidelines and CNSC screening levels, and within natural background levels. CNSC screening levels are based on conservative assumptions about the exposure that would result in a dose of 0.1 mSv/year. No health impacts are expected at this dose level.

In 2015, the results for air sample SR03-A03 were higher than those captured in the results from 2013 and 2014. The variation in results is not surprising, given that SRB's emissions to the environment are not continuous. The 2013 and 2014 sampling campaigns were performed during a time when the facility was not emitting tritium or when weather conditions were varying. The licensee uses passive air samplers to collect samples over a one-month period, while the IEMP uses active air samplers to collect samples over a period of approximately eight hours. Results from the two sampling methods cannot be directly compared. Passive air sampler results will reflect the average concentration of tritium, which is low because there are extended periods when the facility is not emitting tritium based on its operating conditions. The SR03-A03 results are within SRB's normal operating range, and no health impacts are expected at this dose level.

In 2014, tritium concentrations in two vegetation samples were lower by one order of magnitude compared to 2013. Since the IEMP results represent a snapshot in time, the differences between sample results can be attributed to differences in the sampling locations, seasonal variations, facility operations, meteorological conditions and/or natural variations in background radiation. Results over the sampling years consistently remain well below the available guidelines and CNSC screening levels.

Focus on health

Since the CNSC regulates tritium-emitting facilities, the CNSC conducts and coordinates studies to assess potential health effects of tritium exposure and remain up to date on the latest tritium research.

Tritium exposure can pose a health risk if ingested through drinking water or food, if inhaled or if absorbed through the skin in large quantities.

The Canadian public is protected from tritium intakes at current levels. The highest average annual tritium level measured in the drinking water of Canadian communities neighbouring nuclear facilities has never exceeded 20 Bq/L. This is well below the drinking water limits of 7,000 Bq/L recommended by Health Canada. There is no evidence of adverse health effects based on biological experiments, observations of humans following accidental intakes of tritium or routine surveillance of radiation workers at these levels. CNSC staff will continue to ensure that the latest developments in tritium science are integrated, as appropriate, into the regulation of tritium-emitting nuclear facilities.

View the CNSC's tritium studies

CNSC staff collecting soil samples near SRB in 2018.

Conclusions

The IEMP results for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018 confirm that the public and the environment in the vicinity of the SRB facility are protected and that there are no expected health impacts. These results are consistent with the results submitted by SRB, confirming 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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