Atomic Energy of Canada Limited

October 2022 Public Meeting

On October 13, 2022, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited held its virtual public meeting to report on this year’s accomplishments, projects and advancements in nuclear science and innovation, as well as in decommissioning and environmental remediation.

Elder Aimee Bailey, a knowledge keeper from the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, set the intention of the meeting and talked about reconciliation. This part of the meeting was not recorded.

The Chair of the Board of Directors, Jim Burpee and the President and CEO, Fred Dermarkar, discussed how AECL and CNL have continued to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, and how AECL is delivering on its mandate. Mr. Burpee discussed AECL’s governance model and role under the Government-owned, Contractor-operated model.

Dr. Steven Bushby, Senior Director of Science, Technology and Commercial Oversight provided an update on AECL’s science and technology activities, including how AECL is driving and enabling nuclear innovation through the science and research activities. Mr. Alastair MacDonald, Vice-President of Decommissioning and Waste Management, provided an update on decommissioning and waste management at the Chalk River Laboratories, the Whiteshell Laboratories, the Nuclear Power Demonstration Reactor and other prototype reactors, Douglas Point and Gentilly-1.

Updates were also provided on the Port Hope Area Initiative, including the fact that the Port Granby long-term waste management facility had been capped and closed, on the Federal Nuclear Science and Technology Program, and the Advanced Nuclear Materials and Research Centre.

The full presentations delivered during the annual public meeting are available here:

As part of the presentation, a video from Sue D’Eon, Mayor of Deep River was presented.

Presenters then participated in a session of questions and answers. Topics covered included:

  • Small Modular Reactors
  • CANDU reactors
  • Decommissioning
  • Long-term waste management and disposal
  • Medical isotopes
  • The GoCo model
  • Indigenous Reconciliation
  • Enriched fuel supply


Will a video of the presentation be made available?  Will the answers to all questions be distributed to all participants?

Yes, the recordings of our Annual Public Meeting are now available on our YouTube channel.

Nuclear does not seem to be seen by the public and most provincial governments as green energy, especially in the western provinces. Education is the key and that should start with school curricula so children learn about nuclear and its benefits. AECL used to have many educational programs like the Science Teachers Seminars where teachers from all over Ontario would come for an educational weekend and the Terry Fox Center in Ottawa would send its students during science week to CNRL. These students came from all over Canada which spread the word all over Canada. Also the Science Academy. Is CNL involved in similar efforts. Without public acceptance that nuclear is green energy – it is bound to fail.

Both AECL and CNL are committed to open and honest communications about our activities and performance. AECL provides information via its website and communicates about its activities through public engagement forums, social media and information on its website.

CNL has in place several initiatives that focus on external outreach and communications, including education and engagement of youth. These include CNL’s community newsletter, CONTACT, which highlights activities at the sites, including science and environmental remediation work. The publication is distributed to 55,000 households around the Chalk River site and about 9,000 around the Whiteshell site. CNL has also a kids edition of CONTACT which, as its name implies, is specifically targeted to kids and is distributed to 55,000 households.

CNL also has in place a school program which engages students in several ways:

  • Tours of the Chalk River Laboratories are offered to high school science classes
  • Making CNL experts available for speaking engagements and presentations at local schools
  • Providing scientists and other experts to be judges at local school’s science fairs

In addition, CNL has an extensive public information and engagement program which involves regular outreach activities, open houses, information sessions, as well as an active social media presence that highlights its accomplishments and work in science and technology.

You can find more about some of these initiatives here:

AECL website
CNL Newsletters: CONTACT and Kids CONTACT
CNL School Program
CNL Public Information Program.
CNL Performance Reporting

Generally speaking, we recognize that more can and should be done to increase energy literacy, and understanding of nuclear technology more specifically. We want to thank you for your comment and want to assure you that we will continue to explore what more we and others in industry can do in this space.

Question for Fred: could Fred elaborate on the enriched fuel supply security for SMR development in Canada while there is no enrichment capability and insufficient worldwide HALEU production including in the US?

Answered during meeting.

“This question is a reflection of current geo-politics. When we started going down the path of SMRs, many SMR designs require HALEU, has a natural concentration of uranium 235, enriched uranium is just under 20 percent so you can imagine the amount of enrichment that goes on the biggest supplier of the HALEU uranium is Russia and when the war broke out in Ukraine all the plans to buy this fuel from Russia fell through. This is a reminder of how important it is, when relying on energy, you need to understand the reliability of your foreign supply chain and the countries that the supply is coming from. Dealing with this issue is not as existential an energy crunch as say, the supply of natural gas to Europe, but it is something of an issue. Federal departments, like Natural Resources Canada, are working with like-minded countries to see how we can provide HALEU to countries with enrichment capabilities or may have some of their own supply.”

How to ensure decisions by US CNL executives are made for the best of Canada in this competitive context?

The Government-owned, Contractor-operated (GoCo) model was established by the Government of Canada to leverage existing capabilities and assets, bring in private-sector rigour and expertise, create value, and contain and reduce risks and costs to Canadian taxpayers.  It is AECL’s role as a federal Crown corporation to bring value for Canada. We set priorities, challenge CNL’s plans and oversee its performance to ensure that our objectives are achieved.

Just to follow up on Mr. Dermarkar’s statement that “No we’re not rushing the [RFEOI] process, will entities that do not respond to the RFEOI be allowed to participate in subsequent phases of the contract renewal process?

The purpose of the RFEOI was to solicit input and feedback from potential industry proponents on their interest and ability to participate in a potential procurement to select a contractor to manage and operate CNL as the current GoCo contract approaches the end of its extended term (in 2025). Specifically, the RFEOI was meant to solicit input via capability statements from interested parties with the specialized experience and capabilities necessary to meet all the major elements of scope required to manage and operate CNL. Interested parties had until October 26th to respond.

Responses from the RFEOI will be used to help AECL to identify interested and capable sources and to develop a plan on if and how to conduct a competitive procurement process. The RFEOI was both optional and non-binding, meaning that any company or organization which has not participated in the RFEOI could participate in the subsequent phases of the procurement, should they wish to do so.

What Algonquin First Nations were consulted on making a decision to deliver nuclear waste from Gentilly and Whiteshell to Chalk River for storage until 2040? Please email with details Thank you.

AECL is committed to continuing its efforts to establish a new relationship with First Nations, Métis and Inuit that is rooted in understanding and the acceptance of truth from Indigenous perspectives, and that contributes to healing and reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and all Canadians. AECL has been working on building relationships with Indigenous communities, including sharing of information and discussions around our activities and those of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). With respect to engagement with Algonquin communities, AECL and CNL have relationships with the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First nation, Kitigan Zibi First Nation, Kebaowek First Nation, and also engages with the Algonquins of Ontario. These relationships are at various stages, and as they grow and evolve, we expect stronger engagement, sharing of plans and perspectives as well as integration of Indigenous Knowledge into our activities.

The transportation of radioactive materials by CNL is enabled by their approved Radioactive Material Transportation Program and is compliant with the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations and the CNSC Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations. The Program covers the off-site transport of radioactive material activities and practices.

Radioactive material has been transported safely nationally and internationally for over 45 years by road, rail, water and air without a single radiological incident. It is a highly regulated activity that must meet the stringent requirements of both Transport Canada and CNSC before being approved.