AECL is responsible for managing the Government of Canada’s radioactive waste and decommissioning liabilities.
AECL’s Inventory of Radioactive Waste
Radioactive waste is a by-product of nuclear science and technology. AECL’s inventory includes waste created by nuclear fuel fabrication, nuclear reactor development, medical radioisotope development and production, and other activities. It also includes contaminated soil and debris from the decommissioning of obsolete structures at our sites.
AECL’s mandate includes the ongoing management of radioactive waste in a manner that is safe and environmentally responsible. It also includes the cleanup of waste generated by other entities for which the Government of Canada assigned responsibility to AECL in 2015.
AECL’s waste inventory (December 31, 2019)
- Low-level waste includes items such as mop heads, cloths, gloves and other protective clothing that may have been contaminated while being used in the workplace. Over 98% of the nuclear waste in Canada by volume is low-level waste.
- Intermediate-level waste includes items that have had more direct contact with radioactive substances such as ion-exchange resins and reactor components.
- High-level waste is used fuel. It is generated at nuclear power plants and is highly radioactive.
High-Level Radioactive Waste Inventory, 2019
|Site||Number of fuel bundles||
Estimated volume (m3)
|Mass of uranium (kg)|
|National Research Universal Reactor||804||3||2,646|
|Waste Management Area B||9,334||120||22,646|
|Waste Management Area G||4,886||20||23,834|
Intermediate-Level Radioactive Waste Inventory, 2019
|Chalk River Labs||1,050||332||1,382|
|Nuclear Power Demonstration Reactor||-||389||389|
Low-Level Radioactive Waste Inventory, 2019
Decommissioning Waste (m3)
Decommissioning Contaminated Soil (m3)
Operations Waste (m3)
Operations Contaminated Soil (m3)
|Chalk River Labs||12,692||4,202||136,582||156,276||309,752|
|Nuclear Power Demonstration Reactor||2,289||-||-||-||2,289|
Historic Low-level Radioactive Waste, 2019
|Port Hope (PHAI)||720,000|
|Port Granby (PHAI)||765,622|
|Greater Toronto Area||4,900|