Independent Environmental Monitoring Program – Port Hope Conversion Facility and Cameco Fuel Manufacturing

Publication date: March 19, 2018

Cameco Corporation (Cameco) is licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to operate the Port Hope Conversion Facility (PHCF) and Cameco Fuel Manufacturing (CFM), located in Port Hope, ON. PHCF converts uranium trioxide (UO3) powder into uranium dioxide (UO2) and uranium hexafluoride (UF6). UF6 is exported for further processing into fuel for light-water reactors, while the UO2 powder is shipped to CFM and BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada (Toronto), where it is pressed into pellets, which are then fitted into zirconium tubes. The tubes are then assembled into CANDU reactor fuel bundles for Canadian and global nuclear power plant customers. The Cameco sites also process and/or store various natural, depleted and enriched uranium compounds. Cameco has a comprehensive environmental protection program to monitor and control uranium and hazardous substances released from the facilities, determine concentrations in the environment, and assess exposure to the public.

The Independent Environmental Monitoring Program (IEMP) results for 2017, 2014 and 2015 confirm that the public and the environment around PHCF and CFM are protected and that there are no expected health or environmental impacts.

Legend

[ ] Guideline/Reference Level

Port Hope Conversion Facility and Cameco Fuel Manufacturing

Sample Type Sample Description Parameter 2017 Result 2015 Result 2014 Result Guideline/
Reference Level
Expected Health Impact (Yes/No) Background Sample Code
Air Ambient Uranium <0.001 µg/m3 0.0028 µg/m3 N/A 0.03 µg/m3 No N/A PH13-A06
Water Inlet Uranium N/A N/A 0.33 µg/L 15 µg/L No N/A PH11-W10
Water Inlet Nitrate N/A N/A 1.22 mg/L 13 mg/L No N/A PH11-W10
Water Inlet Fluoride N/A N/A 0.18 mg/L 0.12 mg/L No N/A PH11-W10
Water Inlet Ammonia N/A N/A < 0.1 mg/L 0.3 mg/L No N/A PH11-W10
Water Outlet Uranium N/A N/A 0.35 µg/L 15 µg/L No N/A PH11-W11
Water Outlet Nitrate N/A N/A 1.17 mg/L 13 mg/L No N/A PH11-W11
Water Outlet Fluoride N/A N/A 0.13 mg/L 0.12 mg/L No N/A PH11-W11
Water Outlet Ammonia N/A N/A < 0.1 mg/L 0.3 mg/L No N/A PH11-W11
Water Lake surface Uranium N/A 0.47 µg/L 3.9 µg/L 15 µg/L No N/A PH11-W12
Water Lake surface Nitrate N/A 1.38 mg/L 2.73 mg/L 13 mg/L No N/A PH11-W12
Water Lake surface Fluoride N/A 0.23 mg/L 0.17 mg/L 0.12 mg/L No N/A PH11-W12
Water Lake surface Ammonia N/A < 0.1 mg/L < 0.1 mg/L 0.3 mg/L No N/A PH11-W12
Air Ambient Uranium <0.001 µg/m3 0.00053 µg/m3 < 0.0003 µg/m3 0.03 µg/m3 No N/A PH11-A04
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 1.56 mg/kg dry weight 3.27 mg/kg dry weight 1.69 mg/kg dry weight 23 mg/kg dry weight No N/A PH11-S07
Vegetation grass/vegetation Uranium N/A < 0.01 mg/kg dry weight 0.02 mg/kg dry weight N/A No N/A PH11-V09
Air Ambient Uranium N/A N/A < 0.0003 µg/m3 0.03 µg/m3 No N/A PH09-A03
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium N/A N/A 9.28 mg/kg dry weight 23 mg/kg dry weight No N/A PH09-S05
Vegetation grass/vegetation Uranium N/A N/A < 0.01 mg/kg dry weight N/A No N/A PH09-V07
Water Tap water Uranium N/A N/A 0.51 µg/L 15 µg/L No N/A PH09-W08
Water Tap water Nitrate N/A N/A 1.21 mg/L 13 mg/L No N/A PH09-W08
Water Tap water Fluoride N/A N/A 0.19 mg/L 0.12 mg/L No N/A PH09-W08
Water Tap water Ammonia N/A N/A < 0.1 mg/L 0.3 mg/L No N/A PH09-W08
Water Lake surface Uranium 2.68 µg/L 2.43 µg/L 3.45 µg/L 15 µg/L No N/A PH10-W09
Water Lake surface Nitrate 3.06 mg/L 0.16 mg/L 1.79 mg/L 13 mg/L No N/A PH10-W09
Water Lake surface Fluoride 0.11 mg/L 0.11 mg/L 0.19 mg/L 0.12 mg/L No N/A PH10-W09
Water Lake surface Ammonia < 0.1 mg/L < 0.1 mg/L 0.2 mg/L 0.3 mg/L No N/A PH10-W09
Water Lake surface Uranium 1.29 µg/L 7.33 µg/L N/A 15 µg/L No N/A PH14-W13
Water Lake surface Nitrate 1.46 mg/L 1.23 mg/L N/A 13 mg/L No N/A PH14-W13
Water Lake surface Fluoride 0.16 mg/L 0.2 mg/L N/A 0.12 mg/L No N/A PH14-W13
Water Lake surface Ammonia < 0.1 mg/L < 0.1 mg/L N/A 0.3 mg/L No N/A PH14-W13
Vegetation grass/vegetation Uranium N/A 0.07 mg/kg dry weight 0.05 mg/kg dry weight N/A No N/A PH10-V08
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 3.37 mg/kg dry weight 10.18 mg/kg dry weight 18.12 mg/kg dry weight 23 mg/kg dry weight No N/A PH10-S06
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 5.08 mg/kg dry weight 4.58 mg/kg dry weight N/A mg/kg dry weight 23 mg/kg dry weight No N/A PH13-S08
Water River surface Uranium 0.76 µg/L 0.68 µg/L 0.67 µg/L 15 µg/L No N/A PH08-W07
Water River surface Nitrate 3.22 mg/L 2.18 mg/L 3.6 mg/L 13 mg/L No N/A PH08-W07
Water River surface Fluoride 0.08 mg/L 0.1 mg/L 0.07 mg/L 0.12 mg/L No N/A PH08-W07
Water River surface Ammonia < 0.1 mg/L < 0.1 mg/L < 0.1 mg/L 0.3 mg/L No N/A PH08-W07
Vegetation grass/vegetation Uranium N/A < 0.01 mg/kg dry weight 0.02 mg/kg dry weight N/A No N/A PH08-V06
Water Lake surface Uranium 2.31 µg/L N/A N/A 15 µg/L No N/A PH17-W05
Water Lake surface Nitrate 2.90 mg/L N/A N/A 13 mg/L No N/A PH17-W05
Water Lake surface Fluoride 0.10 mg/L N/A N/A 0.12 mg/L No N/A PH17-W05
Water Lake surface Ammonia < 0.1 mg/L N/A N/A 0.3 mg/L No N/A PH17-W05
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 2.12 mg/kg dry weight 5.38 mg/kg dry weight 6.04 mg/kg dry weight 23 mg/kg dry weight No N/A PH08-S04
Air Ambient Uranium <0.001 µg/m3 0.0055 µg/m3 N/A 0.03 µg/m3 No N/A PH14-A07
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 12.17 mg/kg dry weight 11.82 mg/kg dry weight N/A mg/kg dry weight 23 mg/kg dry weight No N/A PH14-S09
Vegetation grass/vegetation Uranium N/A N/A 0.01 mg/kg dry weight N/A No N/A PH07-V05
Water Tap water Uranium N/A N/A 0.42 µg/L 15 µg/L No N/A PH07-W06
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium N/A N/A 1.49 mg/kg dry weight 23 mg/kg dry weight No N/A PH07-S03
Air Ambient Uranium N/A N/A < 0.0003 µg/m3 0.03 µg/m3 No N/A PH07-A02
Air Ambient Uranium N/A 0.00093 µg/m3 N/A 0.03 µg/m3 No N/A PH06-A05
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 1.43 mg/kg dry weight 2.56 mg/kg dry weight 1.8 mg/kg dry weight 23 mg/kg dry weight No N/A PH06-S02
Vegetation grass/vegetation Uranium N/A < 0.01 mg/kg dry weight 0.17 mg/kg dry weight N/A No N/A PH06-V04
Vegetation grass/vegetation Uranium N/A < 0.01 mg/kg dry weight N/A N/A No N/A PH14-V11
Water Outlet Uranium N/A N/A 3.46 µg/L 15 µg/L No N/A PH05-W04
Water Inlet Uranium N/A N/A 4.97 µg/L 15 µg/L No N/A PH05-W03
Air Ambient Uranium <0.001 µg/m3 0.0017 µg/m3 < 0.0003 µg/m3 0.03 µg/m3 No N/A PH05-A01
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 1.67 mg/kg dry weight 2.22 mg/kg dry weight 2.58 mg/kg dry weight 23 mg/kg dry weight No N/A PH05-S01
Vegetation grass/vegetation Uranium N/A < 0.01 mg/kg dry weight 0.17 mg/kg dry weight N/A No N/A PH05-V03
Water Inlet Uranium 0.62 µg/L 0.97 µg/L N/A 15 µg/L No N/A PH15-W01
Vegetation grass/vegetation Uranium N/A N/A 0.26 mg/kg dry weight N/A No N/A PH04-V02
Water Creek surface Uranium 0.97 µg/L 4 µg/L 0.98 µg/L 15 µg/L No N/A PH04-W02
Water Lake surface Uranium N/A N/A 0.54 µg/L 15 µg/L No N/A PH05-W05
Vegetation grass/vegetation Uranium N/A N/A 0.41 mg/kg dry weight N/A No N/A PH01-V01
Water Lake surface Uranium 0.38 µg/L N/A 0.34 µg/L 15 µg/L No N/A PH02-W01
Soil 0-5 cm Uranium 1.77 mg/kg dry weight N/A N/A 23 mg/kg dry weight No N/A PH25-S08
Table Footnotes

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

2 N/A – not available

3 For water samples, the results for hazardous substances are compared to the long-term CCME Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life for freshwater. Where no CCME guidelines exist, the Health Canada Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality are used.

4 For ammonia, the results for total ammonia are compared to the CCME Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life for freshwater based on a pH of 8.2 and temperature of 20°C.

Background

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 radioactiveand 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. Since the implementation of the IEMP, the areas outside of the PHCF and CFM site perimeters were sampled in 2017, 2015 and 2014.

2017 results

CNSC staff taking a soil sample in the vicinity of the Port Hope Conversion Facility, 2017.

The 2017 IEMP sampling plan for PHCF and CFM focused on uranium as a hazardous substance. The IEMP assesses uranium against its more sensitive (that is, more restrictive) chemical toxicity thresholds as a potentially toxic metal (hazardous substance). A site-specific sampling plan was developed based on the licensee's approved environmental monitoring program and the CNSC's regulatory experience with the site. In May 2017, CNSC staff collected air, soil and water samples in publicly accessible areas outside the PHCF and CFM site perimeters.

The concentrations of uranium in air, water and soil, as well as of fluoride, nitrate and ammonia in water were all below the available guideline levels, with the exception of two fluoride concentrations measured in lake water samples obtained near the PHCF. The water sample results (0.16 mg/L) were slightly above the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment  (CCME) freshwater quality guideline for the protection of aquatic life (0.12 mg/L), but were below Health Canada's guidelines for drinking water quality (1.5 mg/L), and well below the CCME toxicity benchmark (11.5 mg/L) for sensitive aquatic biota.  Adverse effects to human health and aquatic life including fish and benthic invertebrates are not likely to occur at these levels of fluoride in water.

The measured concentrations of uranium in soil were above the urban parkland and rural parkland background level for Ontario of 1.9 to 2.1 µg of uranium per g of soil (µg/g) at three sampling locations and below the CCME soil quality guideline for residential and parkland use (23 µg/g) at all locations sampled. No adverse health or environmental impacts are expected at these levels of uranium in soil.

The results for 2017 were similar to those obtained for 2015 and 2014 for the concentrations of uranium in air, water and soil as well as fluoride, nitrate and ammonia in water. 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 baseline and monitor trends. View detailed sampling data.

2015 and 2014 results

The 2015 and 2014 IEMP sampling plans for the PHCF and CFM sites were very similar to the 2017 plan and focused on uranium. CNSC staff collected air, soil and water samples in publicly accessible areas outside the site perimeters for both sampling campaigns. View detailed sampling data.

The 2015 and 2014 IEMP results confirmed that the public and the environment in the vicinity of the PHCF and CFM sites were protected from the releases from the facility and that there were no health or environmental impacts expected at these levels.

Conclusions

The IEMP results for 2017, 2015 and 2014 confirm that the public and the environment in the vicinity of the PHCF and CFM facility are protected and that there are no expected health impacts. These results are consistent with the results submitted by Cameco, demonstrating that the licensee's environmental protection program protects the health and safety of people and the environment.

To obtain the full technical IEMP reports, contact us at cnsc.info.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 requested.

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