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Executive Summary

  • Issued: July 2013
  • Content last reviewed: July 2013

The Radiation Protection Monitoring Service (RPMS) continues to serve as the "watch-dog of Ontario" as it monitors the environment around the province's nuclear installations. Through the operation of the Ontario Reactor Surveillance Program (ORSP) the RPMS provides assurance to the public living and working in the vicinity of nuclear installations that their health, safety, welfare and property is not affected by emissions from nuclear facilities. The RPMS also provides radioanalytical support to the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan (PNERP) should an event occur which would require the activation of this plan.

The RPMS is the laboratory arm of the Radiation Protection Service (RPS) and operates within the Operations Division of the Ministry of Labour. It is the only Province of Ontario laboratory that is capable of measuring radioactivity in environmental samples. When it was established in the 1960's the laboratory was affiliated with the Ministry of Health. In 1978 it was transferred to the Ministry of Labour where it was originally known as the "Radiation Protection Laboratory."

The RPMS is accredited by the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA) as meeting the requirements of ISO 17025 for its Quality System and several of the methodologies. The RPMS is licensed by the Ministry of Environment under the Safe Drinking Water Act 2002 and the Drinking Water Testing Services Regulation (O. Reg. 248/03) to perform radioanalytical testing on drinking water samples.

The ORSP has been designed to detect radionuclide concentrations that would give an annual dose commitment of 0.1 mSv to a member of the public from either inhalation or ingestion. A network of environmental monitoring stations have been located around Ontario's three nuclear power generating installations at Bruce, Darlington and Pickering, and in the vicinity of the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories located north of Ottawa. An additional station is in the Amherstburg area to monitor the Fermi-2 nuclear power reactor south of Detroit, Michigan. Environmental samples collected at these locations are analyzed by the RPMS for specific radionuclides. Air, drinking water and foodstuff (milk) are routinely sampled at all locations. In 2011, in support of the ORSP, the RPMS collected 1540 samples on which 3164 analyses were completed. Included among these samples are an additional 103 samples that were collected between March and May 2011 following the Fukushima reactor incident in Japan. The measured concentrations of all radionuclides monitored in 2011 were well below those concentrations that would result in a dose commitment of 0.1 mSv to the public from either inhalation or ingestion. When compared with the results from previous years, no significant changes in the measurements were observed.

The measurements show tritium (3H) is present in larger concentrations than the other radionuclides being measured. Based on a dose calculation the incremental dose to the public from tritium in 2011 is approximately 400 times less than the desired annual dose commitment 0.1 mSv.

In conclusion, the purpose of the Ontario Reactor Surveillance Program has been achieved and the public in the vicinity of nuclear installations can be assured that their health, safety, welfare and property are not adversely affected by emissions from the nuclear facilities.

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ISSN 1929-2899