Response to Recommendations
15. Governments comprehensively review all monitoring at nuclear facilities in the Great Lakes basin with a view to making the monitoring more accommodating to the needs of the Agreement.
16. Governments monitor toxic chemicals used in large quantities at nuclear power plants, identify radioactive forms of the toxic chemicals and analyze their impact on the Great Lakes ecosystem.
17. Governments investigate and report toxicological and ecological problems associated with tritium, carbon-14, iodine-129, isotopes of plutonium and radium-226.
Recommendations 15, 16 and 17 all relate to the monitoring and assessment of ecological impacts associated with nuclear facilities. The discussion in the Ninth Biennial Report suggests that the current atomic energy legislation focuses on annual human exposure to radiation and does not fully consider environmental impacts and ecosystem effects.
In Canada there are two recent initiatives which address this concern.
The first is the new Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA). This new act replaces the Atomic Energy Control Act. When it comes into force, protection of the environment will be explicit in Canadian nuclear legislation. The scope of the regulatory responsibility in the area of environmental protection will also be widened to include non-human biota and non-radiological stressors. The regulatory approach to be taken under this act would involve consideration of the environment as an ecosystem. In implementing the Act, regulatory guidance pertaining to environmental monitoring will be updated and monitoring programs will be reviewed.
The second initiative involves the assessment of releases of radionuclides from nuclear facilities (effects on non-human species) under the Priority Substances Assessment Program. The CEPA requires the Ministers of the Environment and Health to establish a Priority Substances List (PSL) that identifies substances to be assessed on a priority basis. The assessment is to determine if the substance is toxic as defined by CEPA. Releases of radionuclides from nuclear facilities have been included on the PSL and are currently being assessed to determine if they may have harmful effects on the environment. The assessment will cover the effects of radiation on plants and animals that live in and on the ground and water. The assessment is being conducted in cooperation with the Atomic Energy Control Board and the results will be used in developing regulatory approaches for nuclear facilities.
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