Independent Environmental Monitoring Program - Blind River Refinery

Publication date: September 25, 2015

Cameco Corporation (Cameco) is licensed by the CNSC to operate the Blind River Refinery (BRR), located in Blind River, ON. The facility refines uranium concentrates (yellowcake) from uranium mines around the world, including northern Saskatchewan, to produce uranium trioxide (UO3), an intermediate product of the nuclear fuel cycle. The UO3 is then shipped to Cameco’s Port Hope conversion facility for further processing. Cameco maintains a comprehensive environmental protection program to monitor and control uranium and other hazardous substances released from the BRR, determine concentrations of contaminants in the environment, and assess exposure to the public.

The Independent Environmental Monitoring Program (IEMP) results for both 2013 and 2014 confirm that the public and the environment around the BRR site are safe and that there are no health impacts.


The map presents the 2014 IEMP BRR results, please refer to the detailed sampling data to view the results from previous sampling campaign.limit

[ ] Guideline/Reference Level
< below the provided laboratory analytical detection


Map Layers

Blind River Refinery Points

Sample Type Sample Description Parameter 2013 Result 2014 Result Guideline/
Reference Level
Expected Health Impact (Yes/No) Background Sample Code
SoilSurfaceUranium1.45 mg/kg1.8 mg/kg23 mg/kgNoN/A BR03-S01A
SoilSurfaceUranium3.38 mg/kg1.1 mg/kg23 mg/kgNoN/A BR11-S02A
SoilSurfaceUranium1.3 mg/kg3.8 mg/kg23 mg/kgNoN/A BR12-S03A
SoilSurfaceUranium1.71 mg/kg0.5 mg/kg23 mg/kgNoN/A BR14-S04A
Soil10-20 cmUranium3.86 mg/kgN/A23 mg/kgNoN/A BR11-S02B
Soil10-20 cmUranium1.62 mg/kgN/A23 mg/kgNoN/A BR12-S03B
WaterSurfaceUranium0.25 µg/L0.26 µg/L15 µg/LNoN/A BR01-W01
WaterSurfaceUranium0.25 µg/L0.25 µg/L15 µg/LNoN/A BR02-W02
WaterSurfaceUranium0.27 µg/L0.25 µg/L15 µg/LNoN/A BR04-W03
WaterSurfaceUranium0.26 µg/L0.28 µg/L15 µg/LNoN/A BR05-W04
WaterSurfaceUranium0.08 µg/L0.04 µg/L15 µg/LNoN/A BR07-W05
WaterSurfaceUranium0.06 µg/L0.04 µg/L15 µg/LNoN/A BR09-W06
WaterSurfaceUranium0.12 µg/L0.19 µg/L15 µg/LNoN/A BR10-W07
WaterSurfaceUranium0.16 µg/L0.15 µg/L15 µg/LNoN/A BR13-W08
WaterSurfaceUranium0.04 µg/L0.05 µg/L15 µg/LNoN/A BR15-W09
WaterSurfaceUranium0.05 µg/L0.04 µg/L15 µg/LNoN/A BR16-W10
WaterSurfaceNitrate1.49 mg/L0.23 mg/L13 mg/LNoN/A BR01-W01
WaterSurfaceNitrate0.75 mg/L1.45 mg/L13 mg/LNoN/A BR02-W02
WaterSurfaceNitrate0.32 mg/L0.31 mg/L13 mg/LNoN/A BR04-W03
WaterSurfaceNitrate0.34 mg/L1.41 mg/L13 mg/LNoN/A BR05-W04
WaterSurfaceNitrate<0.38 mg/L0.08 mg/L13 mg/LNoN/A BR07-W05
WaterSurfaceNitrate<0.38 mg/L1.4 mg/L13 mg/LNoN/A BR09-W06
WaterSurfaceNitrate0.5 mg/L0.93 mg/L13 mg/LNoN/A BR10-W07
WaterSurfaceNitrate<0.38 mg/L1.53 mg/L13 mg/LNoN/A BR13-W08
WaterSurfaceNitrate<0.38 mg/L1.81 mg/L13 mg/LNoN/A BR15-W09
WaterSurfaceNitrate<0.38 mg/L0.97 mg/L13 mg/LNoN/A BR16-W10
WaterSurfacepH7.147.336.5-9.0 NoN/A BR01-W01
WaterSurfacepH7.137.026.5-9.0 NoN/A BR02-W02
WaterSurfacepH7.227.066.5-9.0 NoN/A BR04-W03
WaterSurfacepH6.927.16.5-9.0 NoN/A BR05-W04
WaterSurfacepH6.997.16.5-9.0 NoN/A BR07-W05
WaterSurfacepH7.186.886.5-9.0 NoN/A BR09-W06
WaterSurfacepH6.777.56.5-9.0 NoN/A BR10-W07
WaterSurfacepH6.857.336.5-9.0 NoN/A BR13-W08
WaterSurfacepH6.486.876.5-9.0 NoN/A BR15-W09
WaterSurfacepH6.797.176.5-9.0 NoN/A BR16-W10
AirUranium0.004 µg/m3.0013 µg/m30.03 µg/m3NoN/A BR06-A01
AirUranium<0.0004 µg/m3<0.0003 µg/m30.03 µg/m3NoN/A BR08-A02

1The < symbol indicates that a result is below the provided laboratory analytical detection limit.

2For water samples, the results for non-radiological parameters are compared to CCME Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life; where no CCME guidelines exist, the Health Canada Drinking Water Quality Guidelines are used.

3For soil samples, the results for non-radiological are compared to CCME Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Environmental and Human Health.

4For air samples, the results are compared to Ontario’s Ambient Air Quality Criteria.

5N/A - Not Available


Under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA), 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 oversee Canada’s nuclear industry.

The CNSC has implemented its IEMP to verify that the public and the environment around licensed nuclear facilities are safe. 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 radiological (nuclear)and hazardous substances in those samples. CNSC staff collect the samples and send them to the CNSC’s state-of-the-art laboratory for testing and analysis. The BRR site was sampled in 2013 and 2014.

2014 results

The 2014 IEMP sampling plan for the BRR site focused on uranium, nitrate and pH. A site-specific sampling plan was developed based on Cameco’s approved environmental monitoring program, CSA Group standards and the CNSC’s regulatory experience with the site. In 2014, samples were collected in publicly accessible areas outside the BRR site perimeter fence and included air, soil and water. View detailed sampling data.

The concentrations of uranium in water and soil and nitrate in water measured in the samples were below the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s (CCME) guidelines. The measured concentrations of uranium in air were below the levels set by Ontario’s Ambient Air Quality Criteria. With regard to the pH levels in water, the measured levels were within or very close to the CCME guidelines. No health or environmental impacts are expected at these levels.

The results for the two sampling years are similar and are below all applicable guidelines. Since the IEMP results represent a snapshot in time, the small differences between sample results can be attributed to slight differences in the sampling locations, seasonal variations, facility operations, meteorological conditions, and/or natural variations in background radiation. Over time, CNSC staff will have sufficient data to establish a baseline and monitor trends.

2013 results

The 2013 IEMP sampling plan for the BRR site was very similar to the 2014 plan and focused on uranium, nitrate and pH. Air, soil and water samples were collected by CNSC staff in publicly accessible areas outside the BRR facility site perimeter for both sampling campaigns. View detailed sampling data.

The 2013 IEMP results confirmed that the public and the environment in the vicinity of the BRR site were protected from the releases from the facility and that there were no health or environmental impacts expected at these levels.

To obtain the full technical IEMP report, contact us at or call 613-995-5894 or 1-800-668-5284 (in Canada). Please provide the name of the facility and the report year.


The IEMP results for both 2013 and 2014 confirm that the public and the environment around the BRR site are safe and that there are no health impacts. These results are consistent with the results submitted by Cameco, confirming that the licensee’s environmental protection program protects the health and safety of people and the environment.