To the editor:
I would like to respond to accusations in the April 23 article published in The Nation (Vol. 17, No. 12) entitled “Uranium Update: Revisiting Strateco, their Mistissini opposition and the activism against the proposed uranium exploration project” that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has misled the public on the subject of radon in uranium mines. I would like to set the record straight.
The CNSC is responsible for regulating and licensing all existing and future uranium mines and milling operations in Canada to ensure the health and safety of Canadians and the environment.
Radon is an odourless and colourless radioactive gas that occurs in the environment. It is formed naturally by the breakdown of uranium, a radioactive material found in soil, rock and groundwater and it is present in every house in Canada.
Radon has a short half-life of 3.8 days but does not “hang around” as the article suggests. As radon is released naturally from the ground, it disperses into the atmosphere and gets diluted to very low concentrations in the air very quickly. As such, radon outdoors does not pose a risk to the public and the environment. In fact, scientific monitoring studies have shown that radon levels in areas beyond mining sites are no different than background levels, nor are there health risks for the public living nearby.
The CNSC goes to great lengths to fulfill its mandate of protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment. We would never grant a licence unless a facility has been proven to be safe.
For more information, I invite you to visit our website at nuclearsafety.gc.ca.