Decommissioning and Waste Management

AECL carries an important radioactive waste and decommissioning liability, which is the result of decades of nuclear activities at its sites. This liability represents the estimated costs of cleaning-up existing waste areas, as well as safely decontaminating, demolishing and disposing of contaminated buildings and facilities. AECL’s objective is to address hazards in order to reduce risks and costs for Canada in a manner consistent with international best practices.

AECL is also responsible for fulfilling Canada’s responsibilities ,with respect to historic low-level waste at sites, where the original owner no longer exists or cannot be held liable and for which the Government as accepted responsibility. This includes the clean-up and safe disposal of historic, low-level radioactive waste in the municipalities of Port Hope and Clarington, in Ontario. 

Current initiatives to address AECL’s radioactive waste liabilities and led by CNL include:

  • Near Surface Disposal Facility at the Chalk River Laboratories, in Ontario
    • CNL has made anapplicationto initiate the regulatory approvals process, including a federal environmental assessment, for a proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility for the management of AECL’s low-level radioactive waste and other suitable waste streams. For more information on this initiative, please visit CNL’s website.
  • Closure of the Nuclear Power Demonstration reactor, in Ontario
    • CNL has made an application to initiate the regulatory approvals process, including a federal environmental assessment, for a proposal to decommission the Nuclear Power Demonstration reactor in situ. For more information on this initiative, please visit CNL’s website.
  • Closure of the Whiteshell Laboratories site, in Manitoba
    • Decommissioning of the Whiteshell Laboratories has been underway for more than a decade. In 2003 the site received approval of an overall decommissioning framework, through the completion of an environmental assessment and the subsequent issuing of a site decommissioning licence by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Since that time, redundant buildings have been demolished, and new enabling facilities for waste handling have been planned and constructed.
    • As part of its work to manage Canada’s decommissioning and waste management responsibilities on behalf of AECL, CNL is proposing to decommission and leave in-situ the research reactor (WR-1), which is located at the Whiteshell site. CNL has made an application to initiate the regulatory approvals process, including a federal environmental assessment, for this proposal. For more information on this initiative, please visit CNL’s website.
  • Port Hope Area Initiative
    • AECL is responsible for delivering on Canada’s commitment for the cleanup and local, long-term, safe management of historic low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope and Clarington, in Ontario. The objective of the Port Hope Area Initiative is to cleanup and safely manage approximately 1.7 million cubic metres of historic low-level radioactive waste within the municipalities. The waste is the result of radium and uranium processing in Port Hope between 1933 and 1988 by the former Crown corporation Eldorado Nuclear Limited and its private-sector predecessors.
    • The PHAI is being carried out as two projects - the Port Hope Project and the Port Granby Project. For more information on this initiative, please visit the Port Hope Area Initiative’s website.
  • Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office
    • AECL is responsible for delivering on Canada’s responsibilities for the management of historic low-level radioactive waste in Canada. This work is carried out by the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office (operated by CNL).
    • The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office manages historic low-level radioactive waste at numerous waste sites located throughout Canada and has successfully completed projects in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories. The Office responds to questions from the public, conducts consultation and stakeholder engagement activities and establishes partnerships to resolve historic low-level radioactive waste issues within local communities. For more information on this initiative, please visit CNL’s website.