Media Release

Proposed Tritium Drinking Water Standard Too High Say Groups

Oct 26 1999

Toronto. The Canadian Environmental Law Association and Nuclear Awareness Project were among those who commented to the Ontario government about its proposal for a permanent drinking water standard for tritium by yesterday's comment deadline.The provincial government proposes a standard for tritium at 7,000 bequerels per litre for drinking water. This is 350 times higher than the recommendation made by the government's own advisory committee five years ago. In 1994, the Advisory Committee on Environmental Standards (since disbanded) recommended a level of 20 bequerels per litre by 1999.The main problem that the proposal reveals is that the provincial and federal governments do not allow for the same margin of safety for radioactive substances in drinking water as for chemical substances in drinking water.Canadian Environmental Law Association called on the provincial government NOT to adopt the proposed standards (which include tritium and other radionuclides) for drinking water. Rather, CELA stated in its comments that the government must protect Ontario residents's drinking water from radioactive substances to at least the same level as from chemical contaminants."Ontario residents do not expect to be more at risk of cancer from tritium in their drinking water than they are from other carcinogenic chemicals," said CELA counsel, Theresa McClenaghan.- 30 -For more information:Canadian Environmental Law Association:Theresa McClenaghan, Counsel, orKathleen Cooper, Researcher, (416) 960-2284 Nuclear Awareness Project:Irene Kock, (905) 852-0571