Radioactivity found in City of Ottawa biosolids material

On February 3, 2009, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) was informed by the City of Ottawa that two trucks, transporting biosolids material from the City’s sewage treatment plant were turned around at the US border on January 29, 2009 because low-level radioactivity was detected. Two more truck loads with biosolids similarly tested positive for low-level radioactivity on February 3. The material has been placed in a secure location.

The City of Ottawa, whose sewage treatment plant is not licensed by the CNSC, appropriately notified the CNSC of the situation. To assist the City of Ottawa, the CNSC dispatched an inspector to the sewage treatment plant to help identify the type and source of radioactive material.

Early indications are that the detected radioactivity is iodine-131, a commonly used medical isotope. This is normally associated with waste from hospitals or persons who have undergone medical treatment.

The CNSC assures the public that this material poses no risk to the health, safety and security of Canadians as well as the environment.

The CNSC will be in contact with Ottawa hospitals to remind them of their responsibilities regarding waste disposal and licensing requirements. The CNSC will be assisting the City of Ottawa in reviewing best practices undertaken in other Ontario municipalities.

As well, the CNSC assures the public that low-level radioactivity in Ottawa’s sewage is not related to recent events at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd’s nuclear facility in Chalk River, Ontario.

The CNSC will continue to assist and monitor this situation.

Mike Buckthought
National Climate Change Campaigner
Sierra Club Canada
+1.613.241.4611 x235

<< Back to Previous Page