Chalk River Laboratories Near Surface Disposal Facility Project
The Impact Assessment Act (IAA) came into force August 28, 2019. Ongoing projects with environmental assessments initiated under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) and led by the CNSC, will continue under their current processes. The IAA contains provisions to enable these projects to advance in this way.
The Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) is a proposed engineered disposal facility for low-level radioactive waste planned for the Chalk River Laboratories site (CRL). The CRL site is located in Renfrew County, ON, on the shore of the Ottawa River, approximately 200 km northwest of Ottawa. The site is situated within the boundaries of the Corporation of the Town of Deep River.
About the project
CNL is proposing to construct a radioactive waste disposal facility. The NSDF is planned to have an operating period of at least 50 years and, as proposed, would be an engineered mound built at near-surface level on the CRL site. The proposed project would also include a wastewater treatment plant, supporting facilities and site infrastructure. All waste to be disposed at the NSDF will be required to meet the waste acceptance criteria established to assure compliance with operational and long-term safety requirements of the disposal facility.
The NSDF proposal requires authorization by the CNSC. In order to construct the proposed NSDF, CNL must apply to the Commission to amend their current CRL operating licence and undergo a review pursuant to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA). The CNSC has also determined that the project requires a federal EA pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
About the environmental assessment
An EA under CEAA 2012 is a planning and decision-making tool. Its objectives are to minimize or avoid adverse environmental effects before they occur, and incorporate environmental factors into decision making. An EA decision affirming that the proposed activities will not cause significant adverse environmental effects is also required before the CNSC can make a licensing decision on this proposal.
As part of the EA, CNL is also required to provide details on the alternative means that were assessed for carrying out the proposed project. It should be noted that the CNSC does not prescribe methods for waste disposal. However, it is mandated to ensure that the method chosen by the licensee or applicant does not pose a risk to the public or the environment.
On March 8, 2017, the Commission issued a decision on the extent of information to be included in the EA. The decision took into account the public comments received related to the project description, as well as CNSC staff recommendations. The Commission determined that the proposed project must include the factors mandated in paragraphs 19(1)(a) to (h) of CEAA 2012, with no additional factors requiring consideration.
About the CNSC’s review of the proposed project
CNSC staff undertook a review of CNL’s draft EIS and conducted a licensing review pursuant to the NSCA and its associated regulations. As the responsible authority, and working with other federal departments, CNSC staff have identified a number of areas where additional information will need to be included in the final EIS and other technical supporting documentation. Complete licensing and EIS submissions are required before CNSC staff can complete their assessment and proceed to public hearings.
About public participation
Following receipt of a complete licensing submission and final EIS, CNSC staff’s assessment of the licence amendment and the EA report, by way of a Commission member document, will be available to the public and Indigenous groups at least 60 days prior to the Commission’s public hearing, the date of which has not been set. The public will be offered the opportunity to submit written and/or oral interventions.
- Summer 2021 update: NSDF project
- Information about the environmental assessment for the NSDF project
- Information from the Canadian Impact Assessment Registry on the NSDF project
- Fact Sheet: Oversight of Canada's Framework for Radioactive Waste Management
- Presentation by Marc Leblanc, Commission Secretary, to Quebec municipal officials attending the annual Union of Quebec Municipalities meeting in Gatineau, Quebec
- Learn more about Chalk River Laboratories
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