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CNSC Hearing Speech: Cameco Corp. Port Hope License Renewals

Today, Heather Kleb, Director of Regulatory Affairs here at the CNA, is speaking at the Licence hearings for Cameco Corporation’s Port Hope Conversion Facility, Fuel Manufacturing Facility and Blind River Refinery, on behalf of the people who work in Canada’s nuclear industry. Here’s why we think the facility licences should be renewed.

The Canadian Nuclear Association has some 100 member companies, representing 70,000 people employed in the production and advancement of nuclear medicine, uranium mining and exploration, and fuel processing and electricity generation.  This includes the 590 people who operate Cameco’s Port Hope Conversion Facility and Fuel Manufacturing Facility, and the 160 people who operate the Blind River Refinery.

Understandably, we have a strong interest in matters pertaining to the health and safety of our Members and to potential effects on the environment where they live and work.  We have therefore reviewed, with interest, Cameco’s applications to renew the Class IB Nuclear Fuel Facility Operating Licenses for the Conversion Facility, Fuel Manufacturing Facility and Refinery, which comprise Cameco’s Fuel Services Division.

In our presentation we would like to make three main points:

  1. Canada’s nuclear industry needs to maintain its base of highly skilled professionals.
  2. Our industry is committed to environmental stewardship, both in the communities where we live and work, and globally; and
  3. We have a proven track record of being among the safest in the world.  

 

PORT HOPE CONVERSION FACILITY Cameco's fuel services division is headquartered in Port Hope, Ontario.

POINT 1:
We would like to start by discussing the community
where the Fuel Services Division’s head office, and much of its operations, are based – the town of Port Hope.

Port Hope is a town with a long, rich history.  It is home to more than 270 heritage buildings and sites, including former 19th and early 20th century houses, shops and schools.  Also included among the heritage buildings and sites are a number of mills, distilleries and factories.  Port Hope grew up around these and other industrial facilities, which supported not only its growth, but its economic development.

It is not the focus of the current licence renewals, but we feel it is important to acknowledge these past industrial activities and the legacy that they have left behind.  As a result of these activities, Port Hope is also home to low-level radioactive and other industrial wastes, which predate Cameco’s operations there.  The wastes are considered to be in a safe and stable condition, but there is an acknowledged need for a solution for their long-term management.

Cameco and a number of our other Members are involved in the development of the required solution.  Our industry’s knowledge, experience and technology are being used to clean up the radioactive and other industrial wastes that originated from Eldorado’s facility’s, the Crane Sanitary Company, the coal gasification plant and other past industrial activities.

So, as I indicated in point I., we need to maintain our base of highly skilled professionals – including the Cameco staff that are undertaking this important work.  

 

PORT HOPE CONVERSION FACILITY The Port Hope conversion facility is one of three Western suppliers of UF6, a chemical form of uranium that is the feedstock for uranium enrichment plants that produce fuel for light water reactors.

POINT 2:
With respect to environmental stewardship,
the knowledge and skills of Cameco staff were recently tested when, in 2007, subsurface contamination was discovered beneath the UF6 plant.  They immediately investigated the extent of the soil and groundwater contamination and completed a site-wide risk assessment.  Then, following confirmation that there were no unreasonable risks to employees, the public, or the environment, they installed new liquid management infrastructure and groundwater collection and control systems.

We are confident that Cameco staff will apply this same level of diligence to the resolution of any operational challenge that they face.  The commitment to continual improvement is embedded in the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System framework that they work to conform to.  ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems involve a plan-do-check-act cycle of continuous improvement.

As I indicated in point II, we, as an industry are committed to environmental stewardship:  protecting the land, air and water, both in the communities in which we live and work, and globally.

 

Cameco in Port Hope

POINT 3:
We also believe that past performance provides the best indication of future performance when it comes to human health and safety.  We are committed to safety and are proud of our safety track record.  That being said, we are never complacent.  Cameco staff continually work to learn from the experiences of others within the corporation and outside of the organization.

A timely example is the review of lessons learned from the events in Japan.  In spite of the operational differences, the Fuel Services Division has carefully evaluated the lessons that can be learned from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and developed and submitted an action plan to the CNSC, which outlines further improvements to their operations.
So, not only are Cameco staff committed to the safe, clean and reliable operation of the Fuel Services Division, they are also committed to continually striving to improve the safety performance and processes of the Division.  Even though the facilities have been in operation for decades, and the licence renewals will not result in fundamental changes to their operations, Cameco staff are committed to continuous improvement.

As I indicated in point III., Canada has an exemplary nuclear track record with over 50 years of occupational and public health and safety and is a leader in the industry worldwide, but we are never complacent.

In summary

  1. Cameco has a highly skilled workforce, which should be maintained;
  2. Cameco has reaffirmed its commitment to take all reasonable precautions to protect the environment; and
  3. Cameco has expressed a strong commitment to the safe operation of its facilities.  Cameco also intends to continually improve the health, safety and environmental performance and processes of its facilities and to ensure the safety of its employees, the community and the environment where they live and work.

In light of these points, the Canadian Nuclear Association is of the opinion that the Class IB Nuclear Fuel Facility Operating Licenses for the Port Hope Conversion Facility, Fuel Manufacturing Facility, and the Blind River Refinery, should be renewed. 

Nuclear News Nuclear Pride

National Science and Technology Week – October 14-23, 2011

Did you know it’s National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) in Canada?

This year marks the 20th anniversary of NSTW, which celebrates the significance of Canada’s science and technology history, the importance of science and technology in today’s world, and Canada’s ongoing role as a world leader in innovation.

CLICK to learn more about Canadian innovations in nuclear at NUnuclear.ca

TalkNUclear was in Port Hope to kick off NSTW. We wanted to learn more about the historic role Port Hope has played in Canada’s nuclear industry and about plans for remediation. Read about the Port Hope Area Initiative on the TalkNUclear blog. We were lucky enough to be treated to a tour of Port Hope to learn more about some of the Port Hope Area Initiative‘s remediation and waste storage plans (hint: there’s a recreation park in the works!).

A lovely new park in the works for beautiful Port Hope

How are you celebrating NSTW?

Nuclear Science & Technology (S&T) initiatives foster excellence in science, technology, manufacturing, energy and medicine. They contribute significantly to developing highly qualified personnel for the nuclear and non-nuclear sectors.

  • Canada’s federal Government and the Canadian nuclear industry have a long history of investing in nuclear S&T and innovation.
  • Nuclear  S&T  supports materials testing and product improvements, medical products and services, training and development of scientists and engineers, and other activities of high value to an advanced economy.
  • Nuclear  S&T  also contributes to the health sciences sector by studying nanostructures to design carriers for therapeutic agents that can target cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and more.

CLICK to read about TalkNUclear's visit to AECL's Chalk River labs - home to so much of Canada's historic and ongoing nuclear S&T

We want to know what your favourite Canadian S&T innovation is. Let us know in the comments.

Happy National Science & Technology Week!

 

Messages Nuclear Outreach

CNA Celebrates National Science and Technology Week in Port Hope

October 14, 2011 – Port Hope, Ontario

The Canadian Nuclear Association’s (CNA) Board of Directors is in Port Hope today for their quarterly meeting and to kick off National Science and Technology Week.

“We are proud to be in Port Hope today to introduce this beautiful, prosperous community to our Board members and staff,” said Ms. Denise Carpenter, CNA President and CEO. “This is an opportunity for our team to meet Mayor Thompson, members of Port Hope Council, and leaders of the business community to learn about the historic role Port Hope has played in Canada’s nuclear industry.”

The CNA is also taking this opportunity to celebrate National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) which begins today until October 23. This year marks the 20th anniversary of NSTW which celebrates the significance of Canada’s science and technology history, the importance of science and technology in today’s world, and Canada’s ongoing role as a world leader in innovation.

“Science and innovation is at the heart of our industry, and what better time to be in Port Hope than during National Science and Technology Week. We want to remind Canadians about the contributions that our industry makes to the living standards of Canadian families and we invite everyone to explore NUnuclear.ca to learn more about the use of nuclear technology in our daily lives,” added Ms. Carpenter.

To close the day, visiting members will tour Port Hope to learn about plans for remediation and waste storage for the harbor and surrounding lands.

The Canadian nuclear industry provides a broad spectrum of products and services that benefit Canadians. Canada’s nuclear industry is made up of over 70,000 Canadians employed directly or indirectly in exploring and mining uranium, generating electricity, advancing nuclear medicine, and promoting Canada’s worldwide leadership in science and technology innovation.

Please visit www.cna.ca to follow CNA’s Blog, Twitter, and Facebook accounts and participate in the “TalkNUclear”conversation.

For more information on NSTW, please visit: http://www.science.gc.ca.

CNA Contact:
Kathleen Olson
Director of Communications
Canadian Nuclear Association
Olsonk@cna.ca

CNA Responds Messages Nuclear Pride Waste Management

PHAI Update Re: Different Take on PVP Program

There’s been the need to clear the air over a recent article in the Toronto Star about the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) — a federal government program to remove the historic low-level radioactive waste from Port Hope. We blogged about it last week and on Saturday June 18, a letter from the Port Hope Area Initiative’s Mark Giles appeared in the Toronto Star.

Different take on PVP program
Published On Sat Jun 18 2011

Re: Tough Sell, June 11

The Property Value Protection (PVP) program has a specific set of criteria for homeowners and should not be confused with other programs designed to deal with the presence of low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope.

The PVP program is not designed to provide compensation for the presence of historic low-level radioactive waste on a property…

Continue reading at TheStar.com

This video on the PHAI website gives a brief overview of the PVP Program.

http://youtu.be/-439A09te4c

Messages Nuclear News Nuclear Pride

Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) Important Part of Managing our Legacy (Waste)

This letter appeared in the Toronto Star on June 14. It’s from a resident of Port Hope who understands that low-level radioactive waste doesn’t pose a health threat and that background radiation is as natural as breathing. That doesn’t mean that the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) is a “scam,” as he says. The government has a responsibility to clean up its legacy nuclear waste, most of which dates back to the Cold War and is unrelated to current operations in Port Hope.

The PHAI website FAQ describes low-level waste as:

In Port Hope (Ward One), low-level radioactive waste consists of soil mixed with small amounts of historic refinery waste, left over from uranium and radium refining operations in the town during the 1930s to 1970s. This contaminated soil contains slightly elevated levels of natural radioactive materials. The Welcome and Port Granby Waste Management Facilities contain residues generated at the refinery from the 1940s to 1988. Low-level radioactive waste in the Port Hope area does not come from nuclear power reactors.

The PHAI clean-up is a process started in the late 1970s, when the issue came to light. It took until 2001 to agree on an acceptable solution. There have been hundreds of consultations with residents, government and Aboriginal groups, plus extensive  environmental and public safety assessments. In fact,

each phase of the project has been, and will continue to be, subject to regulatory review and oversight by the CNSC as well as by Environment Canada, Health Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada and several provincial ministries.

There’s also some confusion about the Property Value Protection (PVP) Program. The Program isn’t about compensating people for having historic low-level waste on their property. The PVP Program is designed to protect the property seller if they realize a loss on the sale of their property as a direct result of the clean-up project. This is part of the 2001 agreement between the federal government and Port Hope (and Clarington).

(FYI – the PVP Program is working well with 29 of 40 claims approved since 2001.)

The bottom line: the clean-up is perfectly legitimate and will have a lasting postive impact on the community. Residents of Port Hope have expressed concern about the low-level waste, the government has responded. As an industry we support the Port Hope Area Initiative because of our commitment to public safety and environmental stewardship which includes the safe, secure and responsible management of nuclear waste — from low-level waste  to used nuclear fuel from power plants. Learn about the different types of waste and how it’s managed here.

You can sign up for email updates about PHAI on their website.

Messages Nuclear Pride

Canadian Nuclear Association Bringing Board Meeting to Port Hope

June 14, 2011 – Ottawa, Ontario – The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) will hold its quarterly Board meeting in Port Hope, Ontario this Fall to show support for the pivotal role the municipality plays in Canada’s nuclear industry.

“Port Hope is home to the longest-running nuclear processing facility in Canada. We want to showcase the innovative role our industry has played to build on this proud legacy of achievement, and our continued efforts to create a prosperous future for the people in the community,” said Ms. Denise Carpenter, CNA President and CEO.

“We are very pleased the CNA has chosen Port Hope as the location for their Fall meeting. The Municipality is proud to be a member of the nuclear industry community and pleased to welcome the CNA Board members. We look forward to the opportunity to showcase Port Hope as a great place to live, work and play,” said Port Hope Mayor Linda Thompson. While the agenda and details of the meeting are not yet confirmed, a familiarization tour of Port Hope will be planned for Board members that will focus on the licensed nuclear facilities, as well as the areas designated for clean up as part of the Port Hope Area Initiative.

Canadian Nuclear Association - The Voice of Canada's Nuclear Industry

The CNA represents 95 companies who work in the Canadian nuclear industry. Our opportunity is to build a better world by applying nuclear science to a broad range of uses. We are more than 70,000 Canadians, supporting nuclear medicine, exploring and mining uranium, generating power, and advancing Canada’s nuclear advantage worldwide. Please visit us online and follow us on our Blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages to participate in our “TalkNuclear” conversation.

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For more information please contact:
Kathleen Olson
Director of Communications
Canadian Nuclear Association
Olsonk@cna.ca