Dr. Joanna Santa Barbara wrote to Premier David Peterson about tritium. Here are portions of his (June 1) reply to her:
"..All of Ontario Hydro's nuclear power reactors [unavoidably] produce tritium in the course of normal operation... Because it is radioactive, Ontario Hydro plans to remove it from the heavy water in its operating reactors. This is being done to improve working conditions and to reduce the radiation dose to its nuclear workers.
"The transportation of... heavy water containing tritium, between nuclear stations has been carried out for some years now without mishap. I believe that the risk to the general population from such transportation is very low by comparison with the benefits of reduced radiation dose to workers in the nuclear plants. Nor would the alternative be warranted, of building a removal plant at each nuclear generating station...
"There are two options open to Ontario Hydro for dealing with the separated tritium. One is to store it until the radioactivity has decayed away -- about 100 years. Alternatively, there are a number of peaceful uses for Ontario Hydro's tritium when it first becomes available in 1988. The commercial market at present is small but is growing rapidly for applications such as self-illuminating signs. . If the Ontario government is to approve the sale of tritium, we will have to be assured that it will be used only for peaceful purposes and that its availability will not free up an equal amount of tritium in military stocks for use in nuclear weapons..."