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Near Surface Disposal Facility

A proven, environmentally sound, safe solution, designed to address CNL’s nuclear legacy liabilities.

CNL has made application to initiate the regulatory approvals process, including a federal environmental assessment, for a proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) for the management of CNL's low-level radioactive waste and other suitable waste streams.

A site selection process has identified two candidate sites for the proposed facility on the Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) site, called the East Mattawa Road (EMR) Site, and the Alternate Site.

Proven technology Near surface disposal technology has been in use for decades, applied in both the nuclear industry and elsewhere, such as municipal landfills. The technology is mature and well understood. Performance for this engineered solution is sound.

Environmentally sound – The facility design protects the environment. CNL places a high priority on meeting or exceeding regulatory requirements.

Safe -  Designed and operated in accordance with applicable codes and best practices, the NSDF technology features a multi-layer base-liner cover system to encapsulate the waste, and robust safety monitoring systems to assure the safety of workers, the public and the environment.

A solution for CNL's legacy obligations - For many years, CNL has safely placed waste from its operations and from Canadian hospitals and universities in interim storage facilities. The proposed NSDF will provide a permanent disposal solution for waste arising from historical operations and generated as CNL revitalizes CRL and closes the Whiteshell Laboratories and Nuclear Power Demonstration sites.

Project Timeline

CNL plans to develop the NSDF over a five-year period.  In 2016 and 2017, CNL will select the facility site, undertake the environmental assessment (EA) and complete the detailed design for the facility. 

After this, CNL will seek approvals for the EA and to build the NSDF from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).  

Subject to receipt of CNSC approvals, CNL will begin construction of the NSDF in 2018. Facility operation is planned to begin in 2020.

Download the fact sheet

What is an Environmental Assessment (EA)?

Consideration for the environment is part of every project undertaken by CNL. The NSDF project seeks to establish a nuclear waste disposal facility for low level radioactive waste and other suitable waste streams at the Chalk River Laboratories site; this proposed facility is subject to federal assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is the responsible authority for the NSDF project EA.

As part of the project proposal phase the EA process thoroughly assesses and predicts environmental effects of proposed initiatives.  The EA:

  • provides opportunity for stakeholder input,
  • identifies potential adverse environmental effects,
  • proposes measures to mitigate adverse environmental effects,
  • predicts whether there will be significant adverse environmental effects, after mitigation measures are implemented, and,
  • includes a follow-up program to verify the accuracy of the environmental assessment and the effectiveness of the mitigation measures.

The objectives of an environmental assessment are:

  • minimization or avoidance of adverse environmental effects before they occur;
  • incorporation of environmental factors into decision making.

For more information on the environmental assessment process, please visit the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. 

Administrative Protocol between CNL and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

The purpose of this protocol is to outline the administrative framework, milestones and service standards for the EA and licensing activities for the proposed NSDF, including CNL’s submission of the technical information in support of the application for Commission approval to construct and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission review of this technical information. This protocol aims to provide efficient project management for the regulatory review of information submitted by CNL in support of the NSDF.

Download the protocol

Stay informed

Near Surface Disposal Facility

In regards to all our activities, including the siting and construction of the NSDF, CNL will discuss the project with stakeholders through open houses, information bulletins, site tours, newsletters and via our CNL website and the dedicated site page for the NSDF project. We welcome your questions. Please stay tuned for more information on our public information activities. 

Meanwhile, for more immediate information on CNL’s Near Surface Disposal Facility, or to stay informed on public activities related to the project contact us at