Subject: Radioactive kitchenware shipment ordered out of Canada
How would you like to have radioactive
kitchenware in your home, exposing you and
your loved ones to a dose of atomic radiation
every time you cook or serve food?
Thanks to the nuclear power industry, the
manufacture of metal objects incorporating
radioactive waste materials from nuclear
reactors is becoming increasingly common.
The story below deals with a shipment of
radioactive kitchenware from India that has
been sitting in a container at the Port of
Montreal for five months.
The kitchenware in question incorporates a
radioactive waste byproduct of nuclear
reactors called cobalt-60.
Cobalt-60 is an intensely radioactive
material, giving off penetrating gamma rays
that are much more powerful than x-rays.
Cobalt-60 (Co-60) does NOT exist in nature.
It is created ONLY as a radioactive byproduct
(or contaminant) in every nuclear reactor.
Cobalt-60 is used in Medicine and in Industry;
for cancer-therapy, for instrument sterilization,
for finding blockages in pipelines, for measuring
thicknesses in manufacturing processes — but
it should never be disseminated into the environ-
ment or be allowed to enter consumer products.
The principal producer and exporter of cobalt-60
in the entire world is Canada. And in 2008, with
no public debate and no public hearings, the
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)
enacted regulations that ALLOW radioactive
wastes from nuclear reactors to be disseminated
into the environment (e.g. dumps and landfills)
or even into consumer products — as long as the
radioactivity is diluted to a low enough
The Government of Canada is asleep at the switch.
(1) Legislative action is needed to STOP the practice
of allowing radioactive wastes to be incorporated
into consumer goods or to be released to the
environment, making those wastes “beyond
regulatory control”. Once such nuclear wastes
are “free-released”, they are neither monitored
nor controlled. (2) Canada should take more
responsibility and show more international
leadership in preventing radioactive waste
materials that are produced and exported from
Canada eventually ending up in the environment
or in consumer goods.
Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., President,
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility,
Regroupement pour la surveillance du nucléaire.
shipment ordered out of Canada
Contaminated utensils stuck at Port of Montreal since May
CBC News, Montreal,
Oct 13, 2012
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) [has] ordered that a small shipment of radioactive kitchenware, that found its way to the Port of Montreal, be taken out of the country.
The CNSC issued an order on Oct. 5, demanding that the contaminated container be sent back to India by Hanjin Shipping Canada — the company that delivered the cargo to Montreal’s port last May.
André Régimbald, the director of nuclear substance regulations for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, said “this was a relatively low-risk package or container and therefore, there was no need at that time to take immediate strong measures to get the container out of the port.”
According to the order issued to Hanjin Shipping Canada, the utensils inside the two-cubic-foot box are contaminated with Cobalt-60, a radioactive isotope often used for medical radiation.
The Canadian Borders Services Agency (CBSA) found the merchandise during routine scans performed on incoming cargo.
Radiation could stem from medical device scraps
Régimbald said the kitchenware’s radioactivity could stem from a failure to properly recycle medical devices.
“There could have been a source that is used in medical devices,” he said. “[Devices] to treat cancer, are very high-level sources and the replacement and disposal…is extremely regulated and it is possible that the source was inadvertently misplaced or misdisposed and found its way in the recycling industry, was melted with other metals and the metal was used to produce all sorts of manufactured goods.”
The safety commission said the material does not pose any risk to the health and safety of workers or the environment in its current location but would rather see the package sent away than seeing its contents accidentally travel to distributors.
Increase in contaminated packages
Régimbald said Canada has seen an increase in contaminated packages coming from Asia since 2011.
‘There’s no guarantee that it won’t be sent to some other consumer somewhere else in the world.’—Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
According to the commission, the CBSA has intercepted about 15 shipments with radiation levels above the permitted threshold since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant meltdown in Japan. Most of these cargos were sent to Vancouver.
Régimbald said that in most cases, the radiation was on the outside of the shipping containers and not within.
“We had a few cases like that but the Japanese authorities dealt with it and dealt with the problem,” he said.
Hanjin Shipping Canada has until 12 p.m. on Oct. 26 to remove the container from Canada.
Gordon Edwards, spokesman for the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility said “I think it shows that our regulator is really lax, that they don’t act very quickly and also [don’t] act with a lot of due deliberation because simply sending it back to where it came from, there’s no guarantee that it won’t be sent to some other consumer somewhere else in the world.”
Gérimbald said the Indian authorities have been advised by the commission that there may be a problem [sic!] with the control of radioactive sources and contamination in household products.
Indian officials said they were looking into the matter and taking precautions to prevent the problem.
Here are some useful background documents
on what the CNSC calls “recycling contaminated
metal”, but which the CCNR calls “contaminating
For an essay dealing with the so-called
“recycling” of radioactive metals (which has
been an emerging practice in recent years) see
For the position of the Steel Maufacturing Association
on the practice of “dumping” radioactive wastes from
nuclear reactors into the recycled “scrap” metal market:
For concerns expressed by the United Nations about
radioactively contaminated metal:
For information about the 1600 tonnes of radioactively
contaminated metal (steam generators) that Bruce Power
(Ontario) wanted to send to Sweden for “recycling”, with
the BLESSING (licence) of the CNSC:
[you have to type the “sg” by hand]
For a concise summary of the issues related to the
proposed Ontario radioactive metal recycling shipment see
For the resolution that was passed by Quebec municipalities
and many organizations across Canada and throughout
the world against the shipment and “recycling” of the
Bruce steam generators see
For the signatories to this resolution see
Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., President,
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.