Independent Environmental Monitoring Program: Port Hope Conversion Facility and Cameco Fuel Manufacturing
|Port Hope Conversion Facility and Cameco Fuel Manufacturing
|Cameco Corporation (Cameco)
|Port Hope Conversion Facility (PHCF) and Cameco Fuel Manufacturing (CFM)
|Municipality of Port Hope, Ontario
|PHCF converts uranium trioxide (UO3) powder into uranium dioxide (UO2) and uranium hexafluoride (UF6). UF6 is further processed elsewhere into fuel for light-water reactors, while the UO2 powder is further processed elsewhere into fuel for CANDU reactors. At CFM, UO2 powder is pressed into pellets and loaded into zirconium tubes. The tubes are then used to create finished reactor fuel bundles.
All CNSC licensees must maintain a comprehensive environmental protection program to monitor and control radiological (nuclear) and hazardous substances released from the facilities they oversee to determine concentrations of contaminants in the environment and assess potential exposure routes to the public.
The CNSC’s Independent Environmental Monitoring Program (IEMP) results in 2020 indicate that the public and the environment in the vicinity of the PHCF and CFM are protected and that no human health impacts are expected.
- Interactive map and IEMP results
- Data table Port Hope Conversion Facility and Cameco Fuel Manufacturing Download CSV (44.8 kb)
- Results: (2020) (2017) (2015 and 2014)
- Focus on health
Port Hope Conversion Facility and Cameco Fuel Manufacturing
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 non-radiological parameters are compared to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life. 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 fresh water based on a pH of 8.2 and temperature of 20ºC.
5 For soil samples, the CNSC laboratory began using the partial digestion method as opposed to the total digestion method that was used before 2020. This change was made in order for the results to be comparable to the CCME guidelines. As a result, soil concentrations are lower than previous years.
6 2020 sampling locations PH08, PH17 and PH20 were no longer accessible due to harbour remediation activities.
The 2020 IEMP sampling plan for PHCF and CFM focused on the measurement of relevant facility releases into the air, soil and water environment. A site-specific sampling plan was developed based on the licensee’s approved environmental monitoring programs and the CNSC’s regulatory experience with the sites. In October 2020, CNSC staff collected air, soil and water samples in publicly accessible areas outside the PHCF and CFM site perimeters.
Port Hope Conversion Facility
Around PHCF, the concentrations of uranium, nitrate and ammonia measured in air, water and soil in 2020 were all below the available guideline levels. These results are similar to IEMP measurements from previous years. Three fluoride concentrations measured in lake water samples were slightly above the 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. Even though the fluoride results are above the CCME guideline, adverse effects are not expected because the guidelines were derived with conservative assumptions and were derived to protect the most sensitive species over the long term. 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.
Cameco Fuel Manufacturing
Around CFM, the concentrations of uranium in air, water and soil in 2020 were all below the available guideline levels. For air and water, these results are similar to IEMP measurements from previous years. However, for soil this year the CNSC laboratory analyzed the soil results using the same methodology as that used to establish the CCME guidelines. As a result, soil concentrations are more accurately comparable to the CCME guidelines and as a result lower than IEMP measurements from previous years.
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.
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 email@example.com or call 613-995-5894 or 1-800-668-5284 (in Canada). Please provide the name of the facility and the report year requested.
Focus on health
The CNSC reviews the results of existing health reports and conducts health studies to provide further independent verification that the health of people in and around the Port Hope Conversion Facility are protected.
Many health studies have been performed in the area due to the historical and current presence of the nuclear industry in the community of Port Hope, Ontario, where the radium and uranium refining, processing, and fabrication industry has existed since 1932. Environmental and epidemiological studies conducted in Port Hope indicated that levels of exposure to radioactive and non-radioactive contaminants are below levels known to cause adverse health effects. Epidemiological studies provide no evidence of health effects because of past and present activities of the Port Hope nuclear industries. These findings are consistent with research studies conducted in other countries.
Based on exposure and health data, CNSC staff have not observed and do not expect any adverse health outcomes due to Port Hope Conversion Facility operations. Access the CNSC’s library of health studies and third-party research.
If you would like more general health information and data for your community, please visit the following websites:
- Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit: hkpr.on.ca (contact the health unit directly for health reports)
- Cancer Care Ontario reports: cancercareontario.ca/en/statistical-reports
- Public Health Ontario data: publichealthontario.ca/en/data-and-analysis/commonly-used-products/snapshots
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