Releases of radionuclides from nuclear facilities: impact on non-human life
The impact of the release of radionuclides from nuclear facilities on non-human biota was assessed. The nuclear facilities examined included all aspects of the uranium fuel chain, from mining and milling through to power generation and waste management. Although nuclear facilities do release non-radioactive substances (for example metals, organic chemicals), the effects of such non-radioactive substances were not considered in this assessment.
Based on the critical assessment of relevant information, it is concluded that releases of uranium and uranium compounds contained in the effluent from uranium mines and mills meet the criterion set out in paragraph 64(a) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA).
To avoid federal regulatory duplication, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health have elected to take no further action on radionuclides under CEPA at this time.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is mandated to ensure that the operation of nuclear facilities, such as uranium mines and mills, does not pose unreasonable risks to human health and the environment. Since the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA) is a more appropriate federal statute under which to manage the risks posed by uranium and uranium compounds contained in effluents from uranium mines and mills, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health do not propose that radionuclides be added to Schedule 1 of CEPA at this time.
This commitment has been formalized in the Annex to the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Environment Canada and the CNSC. The recently revised MOU and Annex provide the framework under which the CNSC will take specific measures related to the management of uranium and uranium compounds contained in effluents from uranium mines and mills.
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