Fluoride Action Network

Port Hope: Cameco reports two leaks

Source: Northumerland Today | July 7th, 2009 | By JOYCE CASSIN
Industry type: Nuclear Industry

One leak was discovered at Cameco on June 26 and a second leak on Monday, says Rebecca Peters, superintendent of compliance and licensing for Cameco Port Hope.

She told Port Hope council Tuesday night the first incident involved a Freon leak into the cooling water.

“There was a pinhole leak in the heat exchange and Freon went into the water, and water into the Freon,” Peters said.

Although she said Cameco did not know how long the pipe had been leaking, no concerns had been raised about the health of the employees, either by the employees or the regulators.

“The piece was taken out of service right away,” Peters said. “The area was shut down immediately.”

She said the second leak occurred in a different area of the uranium hexafluoride plant, on a different piece of equipment.

“The one identified yesterday (Monday) leaked Freon into the air,” Peters said.

She added there was also fluorine leaking, but not so that it was noticeable.

“And our employees know what fluorine smells like,” Peters said.

Having two leaks within two weeks is a concern for Cameco, Peters said.

“We’re looking at ways to better monitor this type of equipment,” said Peters. “Both these incidents are being investigated by Cameco.”

She also reported earlier issues concerning elevated fenceline gamma at the Dorset Street East warehouse have now been resolved.

“Our investigation found that movement of drums within the building caused this increase,” Peters said. “We have changed the organization of drums, including those used as shielding, which has resulted in consistent monitoring results below 20 uSV/hr.”

She says that in the future, site radiation protection staff will be directly involved with the movement of materials at this site to prevent future reoccurrence of this type of increase.

These issues aside, Peters said Cameco’s emissions continue to be a small fraction of the regulatory limit and there were no “reportable” incidents in the first quarter of 2009.