'Environmental Protection' (EP) comprises one of the Safety and Control Areas whose requirements must be met by TRIUMF under its operating license. These EP requirements are described in CNSC regulatory document REGDOC-2.9.1. The CNSC performs regular on-site inspections to verify compliance, and TRIUMF reports the results of its EP program to the regulator annually.
We carry out extensive engineering design and analyses for our facilities and processes to ensure that emissions and their associated environmental impact are either completely eliminated or minimized. All exhaust stacks have high efficiency filtration for particulates, as well as charcoal filtration where volatiles might be present. Gaseous emissions are also sequestered to allow the radioactive inventory to decay.
(image: A TRIUMF surveyor collects a sample of plant material)
TRIUMF has completed an environmental risk assessment, a summary which can be found here, that demonstrates that the environmental impact of TRIUMF’s operation does not exceed the benchmark threshold for risk to human health provided by Health Canada. Nevertheless TRIUMF has implemented targeted environmental monitoring that provides the necessary evidence to confirm a negligible impact to the surrounding community.
The environmental impact of TRIUMF operations on nearby residents is assessed and minimized through a combination of:
- Constant and thorough monitoring of radioactive emissions;
- Detailed modelling and hazard assessment for environmental protection;
- Regular downstream measurements to verify the environmental transport models.
At TRIUMF, gaseous emissions from all exhaust stacks are monitored and recorded constantly by real-time radiation detectors, while passive sampling filters are analyzed with sensitive high-resolution detectors to measure particulates. Water-borne radioactivity is kept in dedicated holding tanks and is only released once radioactivity levels are verified to be below regulatory limits.
The potential effects on local populations are assessed by environmental models that take into account detailed long-term local weather data, and the best available scientific knowledge describing the effects of environmental radioactivity on humans of all ages.
TRIUMF’s environmental monitoring uses data from the Health Canada Fixed Point Surveillance network to assess the effects of airborne emissions. This is supplemented with regular monitoring of local vegetation and storm sewer water. Both methods are sensitive at levels well below regulatory limits. In addition, sensitive detectors around the perimeter of our site ensure that radiation levels in the immediate vicinity are well below regulatory limits. The CNSC also makes its own measurements of radioactivity in the immediate vicinity of TRIUMF to verify compliance with regulatory requirements.