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Radiation Safety

 

The Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station operates a CANDU reactor - among the safest in the world as they are designed with these four pillars:

  • Redundancy - using at least two components or systems for a particular function so that one will be available if the other is not.
  • Diversity - using two physically or functionally different means for a particular function in case there are flaws in either method.
  • Separation - using barriers and/or distance to separate components or systems that perform a particular function.
  • Protection - seismically and environmentally qualifying all safety systems, plus equipment and structures required to support safety.

There are backup power supplies and a backup control room. CANDU reactors are also equipped with four Special Safety Systems, which are designed to operate in the event of a serious incident or equipment failure. Each of these systems functions independently.

If you’ve ever wondered about how Point Lepreau manages radioactive safety, this page will provide information and additional sources of information.

Still have questions?

After reading the information below, if you still have questions and would like more details on the Point Lepreau environmental management program, contact:

Kathleen Duguay

Manager, Community Relations and Nuclear Regulatory Protocols

Phone: 506 647 8057

Email: kduguay@nbpower.com

Radiation Protection

Radiation is the process of emitting energy as waves or particles and has existed since long before life on earth began. The average Canadian receives three to five millisieverts, the basic measure of radiation, throughout a year from the natural environment. Total radiation dose due to emissions at Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station factsheet.

Workers at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station receive specific training in radiation protection, how to measure it and detect it, and how to protect themselves from receiving any.

Our radiation protection program directives follow federal and provincial regulations, and have been approved by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, our regulator.

Radiation and Point Lepreau’s operations

A by-product of our operations at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station includes very low-level amounts of radiation that contribute to the background levels from other sources like the sun, rocks, soil, household items, activities such as air flight, as well as medical and dental procedures.

As part of our Radiation Environmental Monitoring Program (REMP), we perform sample collection and analysis from the surrounding air, ground and water.

As well, we sample from our nuclear waste management facilities and the regional landfill.

How much radiation do I get from the Point Lepreau nuclear plant?

How much radiation you are exposed to from any radiation source depends on your proximity (how close you are), how long you are exposed to it, the type of radiation and how it enters the body.

In the case of Point Lepreau, even if you lived right at the boundary of the station, 365 days of the year, the amount of additional radiation you would be exposed to from all potential sources in the land, air and water would be negligible. In fact, by the time these releases reach the edge of the plant’s exclusion zone, they are diluted below the detection limits of most of the analytical procedures.

The only assessable contributor to radiation dose from Point Lepreau on the local population is that from tritiated water vapour in air. These are at extremely low levels, well below regulatory limits and only a small fraction of existing background radiation from other sources.

How does the radiation dose from Point Lepreau compare to background levels?

Imagine a full salt shaker that represents all the radioactivity you are exposed to from various natural and person-made sources. Then, add a few more grains of salt to the shaker. That would be the additional amount for people closest to the station.

Regulatory limits and accepted guidelines

Cutline under graphic: Tritium found in samples from test wells indicated levels less than 1% of the regulatory limit, which is set to ensure safety for the environment and people.

At NB Power, our job is to ensure the least amount of radiation exposure reasonably possible from our operations through strong operational performance and strong environmental management. And, it is our job to ensure we comply with relevant regulations and legislation. NB Power does not decide what is an acceptable limit. This is the job of the federal nuclear safety regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

The CNSC does not set its limits in isolation. There are many studies done on radiation safety by radiation experts and researchers in labs and universities, worldwide. Many of these are peer reviewed by other experts and researchers and health organizations to form a consensus amongst the scientific community on safe limits. Recognized organizations that inform Canada’s decision making on regulatory limits and standards include the International Commission of Radiation Protection (ICRP), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) World Health Organization (WHO), Health Canada and the Canadian Standards Association.

Although NB Power does not determine these legal limits, we adhere to and contribute to the drafting and publication of standards by the Canadian Standards Association. These standards are implemented at our station, in accordance with our CNSC issued power reactor operating licence and are used to estimate public radiation exposures.

Additional Resources

Want to learn more?

Below are several independent and credible sources of information on radiation in the environment and from nuclear operations:

Point Lepreau Annual Environmental Reports