Environment & Safety

Safety

We manage the safety of our workers through programs, systems, and standards, with our Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) Policy providing overarching guidance. There are many aspects of the management system that contribute to a safe work environment, a few examples include:

  • Risk assessments help identify issues and determine the appropriate controls; the corrective action process verifies that incidents and near misses are reported, tracked, investigated and shared with colleagues; and emergency preparedness and planning prepare us to respond to serious incidents.
  • We have developed 12 corporate safety standards to help protect our workers from our most common hazards. Some standards guide our general safety practices, such as our job hazard analysis and our job task observation, and other standards deal with specific hazardous situations (similar to other companies’ life saving rules): such as fall protection, confined space entry, rigging and hoisting, and control of hazardous energy (also referred to as lockout/tagout).
  • Routine audits are conducted to monitor compliance with regulations and our own requirements. These and other aspects of the management system are routinely examined to verify that they continue to be effective at keeping our workers safe.

Radiation Protection

Radiation risks are effectively managed at the Port Hope conversion facility through a formal radiation protection program and dedicated personnel who ensure that doses to workers are as low as reasonably achievable. The program ensures that radiation protection is considered in the physical design of all facilities and operating procedures. It also provides for systematic monitoring of radiation in work areas and tracking the exposures of individual workers using a combination of monitoring devices and health testing. Radiation exposures at the facility are far below regulatory limits.

Environmental Protection

At Cameco, protection of the environment is one of our highest corporate priorities during all stages of our activities, from exploration through development, operations, decommissioning, and reclamation.

We monitor our performance by tracking corporate and site-specific key performance indicators, conducting environmental monitoring programs, and regularly auditing our adherence to the requirements of these programs We use the information from all of our programs to help us to identify opportunities to improve.

Environmental management system

We have a ISO 14001-certified environmental management system used across our operating sites, which is supported by a corporate Environmental Management Program that outlines the operating requirements sites must meet. Our environmental management system encourages and promotes continuous adaptation of our practices based on new information and technologies.

Environmental risk assessments

We complete environmental risk assessments to systematically identify, quantify, and to characterize the potential risks to the environment, workers, and the public. We use our environmental risk assessments to inform our decisions and actions. Additionally, we complete an iterative process, where required, to verify that our proposed measures to protect the environment and the public are effective. We review or update the assessments every five years, incorporating results from our environmental monitoring programs and other scientific advances.

Corrective action process

We have a corrective action process in place to systematically investigate and address the causes of non-conformance to regulatory requirements or internal standards. The process includes classifying the non-conformance, assigning the appropriate level of investigation (dependent on incident significance), and tracking the recommended corrective actions to prevent and mitigate similar occurrences.

Audits

To support our culture of continuous improvement, our processes and operations undergo regular audits, including:

  • Our environmental management system is audited by a third-party every three years as a requirement to maintain our ISO 14001 certification.
  • Our SHEQ team conducts an internal audit of our SHEQ programs on a three-year cycle. The total audit scope is split in half and executed on a rotating basis. This means that all our sites undergo at least two audits to cover all aspects of our SHEQ programs within every three-year period. The audit follows the ISO 19001 process and encompasses our environmental and safety programs.
  • We also maintain and implement an internal audit program at our corporate office. Results and recommendations from this systematic and documented process are presented to senior management, who are responsible for implementing them and correcting any deficiencies. The internal audit group reports to the audit and finance committee of the board.

Environmental Incidents and Other Events​​

Environmental incidents and other events are reported to regulatory agencies as required by federal and provincial regulations. This includes releases to the environment reportable to Ontario Ministry of Environment's Spills Action Centre.

If you have questions about any of the items posted here, please contact us.

Latest incident or event:

Posting Date September 27, 2022
Incident Date September 22, 2022
Incident

Environmental Action Level Exceedance

Details

The daily sanitary sewer discharge recorded a value of 160 µg/L on September 22, 2022, which exceeded the uranium sanitary sewer action level of 100 µg/L.

Facility discharge otherwise remains well below the sanitary sewer uranium limit of 275 µg/L (monthly average).

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Groundwater infiltration associated with inactive utilities is suspected as the likely cause.

Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Municipality of Port Hope.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

Past reporting

Posting Date September 27, 2022
Incident Date September 22, 2022
Incident

Environmental Action Level Exceedance

Details

The daily sanitary sewer discharge recorded a value of 160 µg/L on September 22, 2022, which exceeded the uranium sanitary sewer action level of 100 µg/L.

Facility discharge otherwise remains well below the sanitary sewer uranium limit of 275 µg/L (monthly average).

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Groundwater infiltration associated with inactive utilities is suspected as the likely cause.

Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Municipality of Port Hope.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date August 31, 2022
Incident Date September 2, 2022
Incident

Environmental Action Level Exceedance

Details

The daily fluoride emission average for the UF6 main plant stack recorded a value of 236 g HF/h on August 31, 2022, which exceeds the action level of 230 g HF/h.

Facility emissions remained well below the regulatory limit of 650 g HF/h.

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

The UF6 plant was safely shutdown, and an investigation was initiated.

Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date August 19, 2022
Incident Date August 18, 2022
Incident

Environmental Release

Details

Approximately 600L of potable water (town water) from the UF6 plant sprinkler system discharged through the alarm line into a storm sewer basin connected to the harbour. The PHCF potable water system is supplied by the Municipality of Port Hope.

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public or environment.

Corrective Action

The sprinkler system was isolated to stop the release. A dechlorination puck was added to the catch basin. The Spills Action Centre and CNSC Duty Officer were notified.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date June 30, 2022
Incident Date June 28, 2022
Incident

Environmental Action Level Exceedance on June 28, 2022

Details

The daily average for the UF6 main plant stack recorded a value of 45 gU/h on June 28, 2022, which exceeds the action level of 40 gU/h.

Facility emissions remained well below the regulatory limit of 280 gU/h.

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

The UF6 plant was safely shutdown, and an investigation was initiated. The suspected cause is maintenance work that occurred on June 28, 2022.

Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

 

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date June 27, 2022
Incident Date June 21, 2022
Incident

Environmental Action Level Exceedance on June 21, 2022

Details

The daily sanitary sewer discharge recorded a value of 280 µg/L on June 21, 2022, which exceed the uranium sanitary sewer action level of 100 µg/L.

Facility discharge was otherwise well below the sanitary sewer uranium limit of 275 µg/L (monthly average) during the month of June.

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

 

Corrective Action

Groundwater infiltration is the likely cause.

Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Municipality of Port Hope.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date March 29, 2022
Incident Date March 24-27, 2022
Incident

Update to Environmental Action Level Exceedance on March 17 & 18, 2022

Details

The daily sanitary sewer discharge recorded a value of 140 µg/L on March 24, 2022, a value of 130 µg/L on March 25, 2022, a value of 140 µg/L on March 26, 2022, 140 µg/L on March 27, 2022, 140 µg/L, on March 28, 2022, and 140 µg/L on March 29, 2022, which exceed the uranium sanitary sewer action level of 100 µg/L. Facility discharge quality remains well below the sanitary sewer uranium limit of 275 µg/L (monthly average). Cameco is considering this event to be a continuance of the March 17 & 18 event (posted below).

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Groundwater infiltration, influenced by recent warmer temperatures creating a snow and ground thaw along with rain events are the likely cause.

Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Municipality of Port Hope.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date March 25, 2022
Incident Date March 22-23, 2022
Incident

Update to Environmental Action Level Exceedance on March 17 & 18, 2022

Details

The Hayward Street (along the north fence line of the Port Hope Conversion Facility) and the Marsh Street high volume air sampler recorded a result of 142 µg/m3 and 139 µg/m3 respectively for the period of March 22 to March 23, 2022. These results are above the regulatory dust criteria of 120 µg/m3 set by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Both high-volume air samplers are close to roadways, and it is believed the cause is a result of residual winter sand being suspended due to vehicle traffic. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks have been notified.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date March 25, 2022
Incident Date March 21-22, 2022
Incident

Environmental Action Level Exceedance

Details

The daily sanitary sewer discharge recorded a value of 140 µg/L on March 21, 2022, and a value of 120 µg/L on March 22, 2022, which exceed the uranium sanitary sewer action level of 100 µg/L. Facility discharge quality remains well below the sanitary sewer uranium limit of 275 µg/L (monthly average).

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Groundwater infiltration, influenced by recent warmer temperatures creating a snow and ground thaw along with rain events are the likely cause. Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Municipality of Port Hope.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date March 22, 2022
Incident Date March 17 & 18, 2022
Incident

Environmental Action Level Exceedance 

Details

The daily sanitary sewer discharge recorded a value of 120 µg/L on March 17, 2022, and a value of 130 µg/L on March 18, 2022 which exceed the uranium sanitary sewer action level of 100 µg/L.

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Groundwater infiltration, influenced by recent warmer temperatures creating a snow and ground thaw are the likely cause. Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Municipality of Port Hope.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date December 20, 2021
Incident Date December 20, 2021
Incident

Transportation Incident 

Details

At approximately 9:00 a.m., a tractor and trailer carrying four empty UO3 bins from the Port Hope Conversion Facility to the Blind River Refinery was involved in a traffic accident on Highway 7 near Omemee. A vehicle attempted to pass the tractor and trailer causing a collision with an oncoming vehicle which subsequently hit the tractor. There was no damage to the empty UO3 tote bins, and they remained secured on the trailer.

The OPP attended the scene of the accident.

Corrective Action

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission was notified. A new tractor was dispatched to connect the trailer and continue its journey to the Blind River Refinery.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date November 30, 2021
Incident Date November 25, 2021
Incident

Update to Environmental Action Level Exceedance on October 31, 2021

Details

The daily sanitary sewer discharge recorded a value on November 25, 2021, of 200 µg/L, on November 27, 2021 of 250 µg/L and on November 28 of 140 µg/L, exceeding the uranium sanitary sewer action level of 100 µg/L.

Cameco is considering this event to be a continuance of the October 31 event (posted below).

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Cameco is conducting additional sampling and performing sewer line camera work to investigate the incident further.

Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Municipality of Port Hope.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date November 30, 2021
Incident Date November 29, 2021
Incident

Environmental Release 

Details

A laundry water line at the Port Hope Conversion Facility failed at a joint connecting two sections, and discharged laundry water to the ground for approximately nine minutes. The water entered a nearby catch basin which is connected to the harbour via the storm sewer network.

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public or environment.

Corrective Action

The laundry equipment and catch basins were isolated and samples were acquired and sent for analysis. Repairs to the line have already started. 

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Spills Action Centre, Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, and the Municipality of Port Hope have been notified.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date November 22, 2021
Incident Date November 17, 2021
Incident

Update to Environmental Action Level Exceedance on October 31, 2021 

Details

The daily sanitary sewer discharge recorded a value on November 17, 2021, of 160 µg/L and on November 18, 2021, of 100 µg/L, both of which meet or exceed the uranium sanitary sewer action level of 100 µg/L. Recordings from November 1 to 5 and November 7 to 16 were all below the 100 µg/L action level.

Cameco is considering this event to be a continuance of the October 31 event (posted below).

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Cameco is conducting additional sampling and is investigating the incident further. Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Municipality of Port Hope.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date November 9, 2021
Incident Date November 6, 2021
Incident

Update to Environmental Action Level Exceedance on October 31, 2021 

Details

On November 6, 2021, the daily sanitary sewer discharge recorded a value of 130 µg/L, which exceeded the uranium sanitary sewer action level of 100 µg/L. Although recordings from November 1 to 5 were all below the 100 µg/L action level, Cameco is considering this event to be a continuance of the October 31 event (posted below).

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Cameco is conducting additional sampling and is investigating the incident further. Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Municipality of Port Hope.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date October 31, 2021
Incident Date November 3, 2021
Incident

Environmental Action Level Exceedance 

Details

On October 31, 2021, the daily sanitary sewer discharge recorded a value of 140 µg/L, which exceeded the uranium sanitary sewer action level of 100 µg/L.

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Cameco is conducting additional sampling and is investigating the incident further. Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Municipality of Port Hope.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date July 30, 2021
Incident Date July 29, 2021
Incident

Environmental Limit Exceedance 

Details

The Hayward Street high volume air sampler (along the north fence line of the Port Hope Conversion Facility) recorded a result of 126 µg/m3 total suspended particulate (TSP) for the period of July 26 to July 27. This result is above the regulatory dust criteria of 120 µg/m3 set by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. 

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers, or the environment. 

Corrective Action

The elevated TSP was a result of rail line replacement work occurring on site near the affected high-volume air sampler.  

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks have been notified.  

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date June 4, 2021
Incident Date June 3, 2021
Incident

Environmental Release

Details

The PHCF Emergency Response Team (ERT) was activated in response to a discharge of uranium to the exterior of the UO2 plant. The discharge occurred through an exhaust line about 12 feet above the ground. Berms were set up by the ERT and the area was hosed down. The water was collected and pumped to the treatment area. Samples taken in the surrounding area (adjacent and surrounding roadways) verify that the release was localized to the area immediately outside the exhaust line and therefore there was no impact to the environment. It is estimated that less than 1 g of uranium was released.

There was no health or safety risk posed to the public or environment.

Corrective Action

The Hoffman vacuum (which is like a central vacuum system) external exhaust was identified as the source of the discharge. The ERT cleaned the area and all water used in the cleaning was collected and analyzed. Ambient high volume air samples in the area were also collected and will be analyzed.

The Hoffman vacuum system has been taken out of service and an investigation is underway.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Spills Action Centre, Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, and the Municipality of Port Hope have been notified.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date April 22, 2021
Incident Date April 17, 2021
Incident

Environmental Release

Details

A small amount of Argon was released to the air from a valve on a tank. The valve was identified and isolated. There was no health or safety risk posed to the public or environment.

Corrective Action

The valve worked as designed, releasing pressure in the tank that occurred because of the tank being slightly overfilled. There are no further leaks. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks have been notified.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date November 9, 2020
Incident Date November 8, 2020
Incident

ERT Activation

Details

A small hydrogen fluoride (HF) leak was detected inside the UF6 plant resulting in the on-site Emergency Response Team being activated as a precaution. Cameco’s controls functioned as designed and the source of the HF was identified and isolated. There was no health or safety risk posed to the public or environment.

Corrective Action

Cameco’s controls functioned as designed and the source of the HF was identified and isolated. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has been notified.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date October 13, 2020
Incident Date October 12, 2020
Incident

Reportable Release of Town Water

Details

The UF6 plant experienced a loss of cooling water supply as a result of a build up of a fine material, suspected to be algae, on the traveling screen (a continuously moving mesh screen that is used to catch and remove debris). The UF6 plant was safely shutdown using town water (chlorinated) which was discharged to the harbour. There was no health or safety risk posed to the public or environment.

Corrective Action

Cameco has cleaned the traveling screens and has notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date August 28, 2020
Incident Date August 27, 2020
Incident

Reportable Spill

Details

A build up of algae on the cooling water intake screens from Lake Ontario required Cameco to shut down of the cooling water pumps. When the pumps were shut down, municipal water that is also used as part of the cooling water process at this facility was not immediately isolated and a small volume (approximately 60 m3) was released to the harbour without first mixing with the water from Lake Ontario that is part of the cooling water process. There was no health or safety risk posed to the public or environment.

Corrective Action

Cameco isolated municipal water usage at the facility and the release of municipal water to the harbour was stopped. Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date July 23, 2020
Incident Date July 22, 2020
Incident

Environmental

Details

A small fluorine leak occurred in the UF6 plant. The plant responded appropriately with all safety systems performing as designed to mitigate impacts to the environment, and Cameco took steps to safely shut down the UF6 plant. There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

The source of the fluorine was identified and isolated, and the plant was safely shut down. Ambient air monitoring stations results were reviewed for the 24-hour period and found to be normal at less than 2 µg F. The plant has safely returned to operation. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks have been notified.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date May 25, 2020
Incident Date April 2020
Incident

Environmental Action Level Exceedance

Details

A fence line gamma radiation monitor at the Port Hope Conversion Facility recorded a result of 0.28µSv/h for the month of April which is above the action level of 0.22µSv/h. Action levels are NOT an indication of an unsafe condition, but rather an early warning that something has changed and should be investigated. There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

A direct reading dosimeter has been put in place to monitor gamma levels in real time at the location. Temporary shielding has been added and is proving to be effective. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has been notified.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Posting Date March 17, 2020
Incident Date March 13, 2020
Incident

Environmental Action Level Exceedance

Details

The daily sanitary sewer discharge value exceeded the uranium sanitary sewer action level of 100 µg/L on March 13, 2020. There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Cameco is conducting additional sampling and is investigating the incident further. Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Municipality of Port Hope.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Date January 29, 2020
Incident

Environmental Action Level Exceedance

Details

An air sampling station near the Port Hope Conversion Facility recorded levels of 131 µg/mtotal suspended particulate (dust) in the air. This measurement is above the 120 µg/m3 dust criteria set by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. Current weather conditions are dry and dusty (including salt on roadways and across the site). There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Date January 17-18, 2020
Incident

Environmental Action Level Exceedance

Details

An air sampling station near the Port Hope Conversion Facility recorded levels of 910 µg/m3, 189 µg/m3 and 582 µg/m3 total suspended particulate (dust) in the air. This measurement is above the 120 µg/m3 dust criteria set by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) continues remediation work on the property adjacent to the waterworks hi-vol location. There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1

 

Date January 11, 2020
Incident

Environmental Action Level Exceedance

Details

An air sampling station near the Port Hope Conversion Facility recorded levels of 142 µg/m3 total suspended particulate (dust) in the air. This measurement is above the 120 µg/m3 dust criteria set by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) continues remediation work on the property adjacent to the waterworks hi-vol location. There was no health or safety risk posed to the public, workers or the environment.

Corrective Action

Cameco notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. Cameco informed CNL of the exceedance.

Cameco Environmental Effect Rating 1


Cameco Environmental Effect Rating

  • Level 1 - no measurable impact to the environment
  • Level 2 - negligible impact
  • Level 3 - short-term, seasonal impact
  • Level 4 - mortality of some species, but not affecting ecosystem function
  • Level 5 - impairment of ecosystem function
  • N/A - not applicable

Notes

  1. 1

    Includes all releases to the environment reportable to Ontario Ministry of Environment's Spills Action Centre and other significant events.


Waste Management

Solid wastes contaminated by uranium are reprocessed, recycled and re-used to the extent possible. Waste materials that cannot be reprocessed, recycled or re-used are safely stored on site until appropriate disposal options are available.

Wastes generated at the facility are segregated at the point of generation into contaminated and non-contaminated. Non-contaminated waste is either recycled or transferred to a suitable facility. Contaminated waste is stored in appropriate containers pending assessment of recycling or disposal options.

Decommissioning

Detailed plans and financial guarantees are in place to restore the conversion facility site to public use once the facility reaches the end of its productive life.

Environmental Assessment

All new significant changes to existing operations are subject to environmental assessments to identify potential effects on the environment.

Regulatory Oversight

The Port Hope conversion facility is licensed and regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The operation is also subject to other federal and provincial regulations for the protection of people and the environment, including by Environment Canada and Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment. Federal and provincial regulators conduct regular site inspections and audits to verify that people and the environment are protected.

Sustainability at Cameco

When measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of a company, environmental, social and governance (ESG) are key factors considered by the public and investors. Sustainability and ESG matters have been an important focus at Cameco for many years and we have a strong performance record.

Learn more