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Health Implications of re-licensing the Cameco nuclear fuel manufacturing plant .

“Health Implications of re-licensing the Cameco Fuel Manufacturing plant (CFM)” Gordon Edwards 12 Oct 22

 my submission to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, on behalf of the Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee. Port Hope is in Ontario, on the north shore of Lake Ontario just east of Toronto. This town houses one of the largest uranium “conversion” plants in the world, turning refined uranium into (1) drums of uranium hexafluoride for export to enrichment plants in other countries, and (2) uranium dioxide powder to be turned into ceramic fuel pellets used in Canadian nuclear reactors.

The paper deals with the health implications of the low-level radioactive dust that escapes into the air of Port Hope from the Fuel Fabrication Plant – the plant that manufactures fuel pellets and assembles them into CANDU fuel bundles.  

Before they are used, these fuel bundles are weakly radioactive but safe to handle (with gloves, for a short time). After they are used, the fuel bundles are millions of times more radioactive — when freshly discharged from the reactor, one fuel bundle will kill an unshielded human standing one metre  away in less than 20 seconds. That’s a very HIGH level of radiation, caused by all the broken pieces of uranium atoms that are left Inside the used fuel bundle and are constantly disintegrating.

But that is not the case in Port Hope. Here we have only naturally occurring radioactive uranium that has been brought to the surface to make fuel for nuclear reactors. The problem is that the uranium dust specks are so tiny they are totally invisible, and when inhaled they “stick” in the lungs and stay there for a long time, damaging the tissue so that it might begin to grow in the wrong way, eventually becoming a lung cancer years later.  It is a much slower kind of illness and death that may be caused by LOW level radiation exposure. It’s like a lottery with a negative “prize” – not everyone will be so affected, but the unlucky “winners” will suffer the consequences.

Gordon Edwards

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October 12, 2022 - Posted by | Canada, health, Reference, Uranium

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