Toxin releases into the Ottawa River
I would like to correct misinformation in the letter by Michael Rinker of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). In “Radiation Limits Protect Human Health”, he claims that “The CNSC imposes limits — called derived release limits (DRLs) — that restrict the amount of radioactive material released to the environment by a licensed facility.” (References releases of radioactive materials into the Ottawa River from Chalk River).
In actuality, DRLs are not referenced anywhere in federal law. CNSC allows the nuclear industry to calculate its own “limits”. The industry does this using complex models that make assumptions about how radioactive substances behave after being released to air or water, how much radioactively contaminated food is eaten, and so forth. These models contain considerable uncertainty and potential error. They are not reviewed by independent scientists nor made easily accessible to the public.
“Limits” are calculated on an annual basis and ignore the cumulative exposures received by local residents who may live near a nuclear facility for 70 years or more. This is a significant difference from how non-radiological toxic chemicals are regulated, and puts the public at risk.
CNSC’s radiation protection regime could be characterized as “outsourcing regulation to industry”. A serious discussion about better ways to protect human health from unsafe radiation exposures is long overdue.
Ole Hendrickson, PhD
Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area