CANDU operators claim that it is the best nuclear reactor design in the world, but on the other hand South Korea also claims to have the best and safest designs. Which is true? Are the routine daily radiation emissions from the CANDU reactors here in Canada safe?

There are pros and cons to the various different types of reactor designs.  Getting into the specific differences would require a very technical discussion, but we can assure you that both the CANDU and South Korean reactors are very safe.   It is worth noting that South Korea operates more than one type of reactor, including 4 CANDU systems as well as a number of different Korean designed systems.  The companies that build reactors are trying to market and sell their product, and will therefore promote aspects of their equipment that they believe will attract potential customers – much like the manufacturer of any other product would.  Regardless, both types of reactors are built to very high standards and must pass rigorous regulatory requirements before they can be put into operation.

A detailed evaluation of routine radiation emissions from the reactors would also require a very technical discussion, as it depends upon the specific type of radioactive isotope being considered and emission pathway (e.g., water or airborne).  However, all emissions must meet strict regulatory requirements established by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), which is the regulatory authority for nuclear substances in Canada.  CNSC document Tritium Releases and Dose Consequences in Canada in 2006 contains information on tritium releases from reactors.  Section 4.1.2 shows that tritium releases from the nuclear generating stations in Canada are all well below allowable limits.

Health Canada operates the Canadian Radiological Monitoring Network, which takes various measurements of radioactivity including tritium in water vapor around nuclear power plants. You can find this information here.


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