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RISK: Nuclear Standards applied to Cameco in Port Hope.

Pat Lawson, Port Hope, ON

The CNSC applies definitive estimates of risk to the Port Hope population in an area fraught with uncertainties. The nuclear model is pathways analysis. The situation in Port Hope is far too complicated to apply this model. It cannot effectively document the migration of radionuclides through the environment, let alone determine human exposure.

It is compromised further by risk models based on gamma radiation, ignoring particle inhalation that causes respiratory and cardiovascular disease. The following risk factors endured by Port Hope residents are ignored by the Regulator (CNSC):

1. We citizens of Port Hope live in the buffer zone. CNSC deducts background gamma (estimated at 8 microRoentgens/hr in Port Hope) from their calculation of risk.

2. Over the years, Cameco/Eldorado have had repeated accidents involving air, water, and soil. This data is diluted by averaging the results in monthly reports.

3. There is a cumulative impact on immune systems, ignored by the Regulator.

4. A reductionist calculation can only deal with the average man/woman/child. It does not allow for the multi-factorial nature of health, inherent genetic diversities, differing life experiences and sensitivities, and therefore differing susceptibilities.

Cameco is essentially a chemical plant. It uses about 30,000 lbs per day of highly toxic hydrogen fluoride. Remember, this is in the midst of a town. The allowable risk for chemicals = one cancer per million people. Cancer risks in the nuclear industry are hundreds of times higher than are allowed in the chemical industries. The uranium component at Cameco is actually less of a risk than hydrogen fluoride, which has the potential to trigger a Bhopal scenario in Port Hope.

Theoretical estimates of risk account for little compared to the scientific analysis of the body burden(biotesting) initiated by Port Hope residents. The results of recent lab tests show chronic internal contamination from inhaling radioactive toxins. Some of the contaminants are commercial nuclear isotopes not acknowledged by the regulator to date in Port Hope.

It seems clear that the allowable exposure/risk level for Port Hope is not based on the health of the residents, but is adjusted to accommodate the industry. This is as unacceptable as the mining of uranium from which the whole tragic problem originates.