CNSC to hold public hearing for the licence renewal of Chalk River Laboratories

On January 23, 24 and 25, 2018, the CNSC will hold a public hearing for the licence renewal of Chalk River Laboratories. The Commission will hear from Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), CNSC staff and members of the public.

Chalk River Laboratories

Chalk River Laboratories (CRL), operated by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), is located approximately 160 km northwest of Ottawa. CRL is the largest single science and technology complex in Canada. Currently, the site is used to produce medical isotopes and conduct research and development.

The current licence for CRL will expire on March 31, 2018. CNL applied to the CNSC for a ten-year renewal of its nuclear research and test establishment operating licence, which would allow continued operation of the site until April 1, 2028. CNL’s licence application identifies the following areas the operation would focus on during the proposed licence period:

  • Shutdown and transition to storage with surveillance of the NRU reactor
  • Revision of the CNL management system
  • Improvements to the CRL site-wide infrastructure
  • Continuation of decommissioning and waste management
  • Science and technology capabilities program

Shutdown of the NRU reactor

The National Research Universal reactor (NRU) first went into service on November 3, 1957. Over the last 60 years, it has produced medical isotopes and served a number of research and scientific roles. The NRU will be permanently shut down on March 31, 2018.

During CNL’s proposed licence period, the NRU will transition from operation to a safe shutdown state and then prepare for decommissioning.

Revising and improving processes and infrastructure

CNL plans to continue making improvements to the processes, procedures and practices used to ensure that all tasks carried out at CRL are done safely and consistently. The improvements are carried out to align operations with modern practices while ensuring that CNL’s regulatory requirements continue to be met.

CNL also plans to continue improvements of CRL’s infrastructure during the next licensing period. These improvements include the construction of new buildings and facilities, modifications to existing buildings, and updates to equipment, shared services and utilities. These infrastructure improvements are designed to improve safety across the site.

Decommissioning and waste management

CNL’s plans for the Chalk River site include a variety of decommissioning, waste management, and environmental restoration activities. During the proposed licence period, over 120 buildings and structures are scheduled for decommissioning or demolition. CNL’s planned activities will help consolidate existing and future waste. The modernization and cleanup of the CRL site will also reduce Canada’s radioactive waste and decommissioning liabilities, ultimately reducing the site’s overall risk profile.

CNL will also continue onsite waste management practices, including:

  • processing and storing legacy waste
  • removing and processing stored radioactive liquid waste
  • decommissioning the associated tanks and structures
  • remediating some of the affected lands at CRL
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