Atomic Energy of Canada Limited

Radioactive
Waste

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)
Douglas Point 22,256 89 299,827
Gentilly-1 3,213 13 67,596
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
Whiteshell Laboratories 2,290 29 13
TOTAL HLW 42,783 274 416,562

Intermediate-Level Radioactive Waste Inventory, 2019

Site
Operations (m3)
Decommissioning (m3)
Total (m3)
Chalk River Labs 1,050 332 1,382
Douglas Point - 6 6
Nuclear Power Demonstration Reactor - 389 389
Whiteshell Laboratories - 240 240
TOTAL ILW 1,050 967 2,017

Low-Level Radioactive Waste Inventory, 2019

Site
Decommissioning Waste (m3)
Decommissioning Contaminated Soil (m3)
Operations Waste (m3)
Operations Contaminated Soil (m3)
Total (m3)
Chalk River Labs 12,692 4,202 136,582 156,276 309,752
Douglas Point 92 - - - 92
Gentilly-1 161 - - - 161
Nuclear Power Demonstration Reactor 2,289 - - - 2,289
Whiteshell Laboratories 16,861 - - - 16,861
TOTAL LLW 32,095 4,202 136,582 156,276 329,155

Historic and Deloro low-Level Radioactive Waste, 2019

Site
Total (m3)
Port Hope (PHAI) 720,000
Welcome (PHAI) 550,000
Port Granby (PHAI) 765,622
Greater Toronto Area 4,900
Deloro 34,500
TOTAL 2,075,022

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