The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) provided information regarding radiation health to attendees at the Community Liaison Committee (CLC) meeting on April 1.
The presentation began with a list of what they do and don’t do, removing themselves from the nuclear industry, restating that they are an independent regulator of the nuclear industry.
Project officer Julia Smith started with what she called a refresher in radiation and health and the biological effects of radiation exposure.
Smith described radiation as energy transmitted as waves or streams of particles from natural or artificial sources.
According to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), there are four major natural radiation sources. They are cosmic radiation, terrestrial radiation, and intakes of naturally occurring radionuclides through inhalation and ingestion.
Smith went on to say when our bodies are exposed to radiation, one of three things can happen to the irradiated cell:
• it can die;
• it can incorrectly repair the DNA, possibly contributing to cancer in the future; or
• it repairs the DNA, continues to function normally.
She then described the radiation protection regulations and protection framework, which three organizations govern.
UNSCEAR oversees sources and effects.
International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) manages protection philosophy, principles and units, and recommendations.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) provides practical guidance that can be implemented by United Nations (UN) member states.
The amount of radiation that humans can absorb is classified as a dose.
Nuclear Energy Workers (NEW) will be exposed to radiation more often than the average person; therefore, their dosage limits are much higher.
A NEW that has not notified their employer of a pregnancy or breast-feeding in a one-year dosimetry-period could have 50 “effective doses (mSv)” and a five-year dosimetry period up to 100 mSv.
Suppose the company is informed in writing that an employee is pregnant or breast-feeding. In that case, the maximum allowable dose drops to 4 mSv.
The public can only be exposed to one mSv in one year.
The presentation went on to speak about environmental protection and community health, as well as essential metrics like Environmental Monitoring Programs (EMP), public dose, and worker dose.
The early engagement process has been building their independent knowledge, talking to NWMO, and explaining safety requirements. They have also been meeting with and building relationships with communities, providing factual and unbiased information, and learning and sharing with other countries.
The presentation included a timeline of the South Bruce project that spanned from 2021 to 2043, saying there are preliminary site assessments underway.
The summary portion of the presentation said the following:
• public participation and Indigenous engagement are an ongoing commitment;
• compliance programs are in place to inspect, enforce and report compliance matters; and
• with respect to the NWMO APM project, CNSC will continue early engagement with interested communities.
If a licence application is submitted to the CNSC, it would be subject to rigorous safety-focused regulatory review.
The presentation ended by saying that we are all exposed to natural and artificial sources of radiation.
Radiation can cause harm but can also be used in positive ways (particularly medical).
As the nuclear regulator, the CNSC sets strict dose limits to protect workers and the public (many regulatory instruments exist to protect the environment).
The entire presentation can be viewed at southbruce.ca.