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Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our FAQ section. Please click on a question to view the answer.


Questions

  1. What is Low-Level Radioactive Waste?

  2. What is "historic" low-level radioactive waste?

  3. Where are radioactive wastes located in Canada and how much is there?

  4. What is Radon Gas?

  5. Have the health effects of living with low-level radioactive wastes been studied? What are the results?

 

Answers

  1. What is Low-Level Radioactive Waste?     (Back to top)

    Low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) arises from the activities associated with nuclear electricity generation, from nuclear research and development, and from the production and use of radioisotopes in medicine, education, research, agriculture and industry. Examples of LLRW are contaminated materials, rags and protective clothing. LLRW is grouped into two broad categories, as follows:

  • Ongoing Waste: LLRW that is generated from ongoing activities of companies that are currently in business, for example, nuclear electricity generators. Owners or producers of ongoing waste are responsible for its management. For more information "click here".

  • Historic Waste: LLRW that was managed in the past in a manner no longer considered acceptable but for which the original producer cannot reasonably be held responsible. The federal government has accepted responsibility for this waste. For more information "click here".
  1. What is "historic" low-level radioactive waste?     (Back to top)

    Historic low-level radioactive waste is low-level waste that was managed in a manner no longer considered acceptable, but for which the original producer cannot reasonably be held responsible or no longer exists.

    The historic waste mostly consists of process residues and contaminated materials mixed with soil. Most of this waste dates back to the 1930s when radium was refined for medical and industrial applications in Port Hope, Ontario. Most of the waste is now safely stored at interim storage facilities located at or near the waste sites.

    For more information "click here".

  2. Where are radioactive wastes located in Canada and how much is there?     (Back to top)

    In 2003, 250 m3 of nuclear fuel waste, 7,300 m3 low-level radioactive waste, and 0.6 million tonnes of uranium mine and mill tailings were produced in Canada. Cumulative inventory until 2003, showed 6,800 m3 nuclear fuel waste, 2.29 million m3 low-level radioactive waste, and 213 million tones uranium mine and mill tailings existing in Canada.

    All the presently operating mine and mill tailings sites in Canada are found in northern Saskatchewan. Many decommissioned sites exist in northern Saskatchewan and around Elliot Lake in Ontario. Many of the low-level radioactive waste storage sites are found in southern Ontario. The nuclear fuel waste is stored on site at nuclear reactor facilities.

    For more information click the: Inventory of Radioactive Waste in Canada, March 2009Inventory of Radioactive Waste in Canada (4.72 MB)  
     

  3. What is Radon Gas?     (Back to top)

    Radon is a clear, odourless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the environment. It is produced from the radioactive decay of uranium. It is found in higher concentration where soils and rocks contain uranium, granite, shale or phosphate. It is also found in soil contaminated by certain types of industrial wastes, such as the by-products of uranium or phosphate mining. Radon gas is not dangerous in open air, but in confined spaces, where it can concentrate to higher levels, it can be a health hazard.

    For more information "click here".

  4. Have the health effects of living with low-level radioactive wastes been studied? What are the results?     (Back to top)

A number of studies of Port Hope, Ontario - a community with "historic" low-level radioactive waste - have been conducted. In 2000, a Health Canada Study found that the overall cancer rates in Port Hope are comparable to rates throughout the province of Ontario.

         

 


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