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The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has issued SRB Technologies (SRBT) in Pembroke a two-year operating licence that will allow the company to resume tritium processing.
The announcement was made late Thursday.
“We are pleased that the commission has recognized the major improvements that we have made and decided to issue our company an operating licence,” said SRBT president Stephane Levesque. “These improvements were made as a result of all the hard work performed by our staff.”
The processing licence is valid from July 1, 2008 until June 30, 2010.
Leading up to the decision were two days of public hearings in Ottawa where SRBT, CNSC staff and the public had an opportunity to speak both for and against SRBT’s request to resume tritium processing.
According to a release from the CNSC, the commission took into consideration written submissions and oral presentations from all these groups when making its decision.
“The commission is now of the opinion that SRBT has made major improvements to both its understanding of its responsibilities under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and associated regulations and to its qualifications and performance in the area of environmental protection,” the commission said in the press release announcing its decision.
SRBT was not authorized to process tritium at its facility since February 1, 2007 when the commission decided that, following a public hearing held in 2006, SRBT would not make adequate provision for the protection of the environment when processing tritium.
SRBT uses tritium, a radioactive substance, to manufacture glow-in-the-dark signs and other illuminated products.
The CNSC’s press release also said “The Commission expresses the view that, although it is satisfied with the important improvements that SRBT has implemented to address past deficiencies, enhanced CNSC regulatory oversight is still required for the length of the licence period.”
In a document listing the reasons for the commission’s decision, CNSC president Michael Binder, said, “The commission concludes that SRBT is qualified to carry on the activities that would be permitted under an operating licence.”
Mr. Levesque said that the issuing of the operating licence provides job security for the company’s existing workforce and also ensures an ongoing revenue stream to help to continue to fund the facility’s financial guarantee for decommissioning.
Continuing to fund that financial guarantee by meeting an agreed-upon payment schedule is one of the conditions of the new licence.
According to Mr. Levesque, increased revenue will also allow the company to make further improvements to reduce its tritium emissions.
When SRBT lost its operating licence in 2007, it was forced to lay off about two-thirds of its workers.
Mr. Levesque said some of those employees might now be able to get their jobs back.
“For a period of time, processing will resume incrementally with the existing staff, and over time we expect to rehire a number of former employees,” he said.
SRBT’s history in Pembroke has been controversial.
Speaking out against allowing the company to resume tritium processing has been the Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County, a local nuclear industry watchdog group.
The group declined to comment on the record Friday regarding the commission’s issuing of the licence.
“Article ID# 1093332’:http://www.thedailyobserver.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1093332