2.7 Radioactive sites

The extraction of radioactive minerals is the first step of an industry that is environmentally unsafe at every step. Abandoned and active mines, processing plants, nuclear plants, tritium light plants, and radioactive waste dumps (licensed or not) are all sites where radioactive materials may cause environmental damage and pose a threat to human health.

To minimize your exposure to the dangers of radiation, you should get help from people skilled in this field prior to visiting the site.

What to look for on-site

One of the difficulties with radioactive substances is their undetectability by human senses. You will need a Geiger counter to detect gamma radiation and other specialized equipment to detect alpha and beta radiation and radon gas.

Contaminants to test for

Liquid discharges: cesium, carbon 14, iodine, krypton 85, lead 210, plutonium, radium, radon and radon daughters, strontium 90, thorium, and uranium can be analyzed by specialized laboratories. Not all of these contaminants will be present at each site.

These pollutants can also be present in sediments.

Air releases: radon gas.

Call the laboratory for special handling procedures before bringing in samples that you suspect may contain radioactive substances.

Acts and regulations that may apply

AECB (Atomic Energy Control Board) regulations

Ontario Environmental Protection Act