CNL executive voices optimism about direction of Canada’s national nuclear laboratories following significant achievements in clean energy, public health and environmental remediation
2022 was ‘a year of major accomplishments’ at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), according to Joe McBrearty, CNL’s President and CEO. Following two productive but turbulent years caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, CNL experienced what Mr. McBrearty describes as a more conventional year of operation, which was marked by significant achievements across all of its program areas, as well as steady progress in the ongoing revitalization of the Chalk River Laboratories campus.
Under the direction of AECL and guided by a new corporate strategy known as Vision 2030, CNL is fulfilling three strategic priorities of national importance on behalf of the Government of Canada – restoring and protecting the environment, advancing clean energy technologies, and contributing to the health of Canadians. New this year is an increased focus on collaborative research to help advance innovative Canadian products and services towards real-world use, including carbon-free energy, cancer treatments and other therapies, non-proliferation technologies and waste management solutions.
“I want to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to the entire CNL team for an incredibly successful year, and for working so hard to bring our vision for Canada’s national nuclear laboratory to life,” commented Mr. McBrearty. “In 2022, CNL made important advancements in clean energy technologies to help Canada in its fight against climate change; continued our pursuit of one of the rarest medical isotopes on Earth to bring hope to cancer patients around the world; and helped restore and protect Canada’s environment as part of our cleanup mission. And we did it all with an unwavering commitment to safety.”
Some of CNL’s 2022 accomplishments include:
- CNL launched a bold and ambitious new corporate strategy, known as Vision 2030, which charts an exciting new direction for Canada’s national nuclear laboratory.
- In pursuit of this strategy, CNL signed a series of partnership agreements with a group of organizations that are strategically important to its future. The new strategic delivery partnership agreements are designed to enhance and build the necessary capabilities and capacity to bring Vision 2030 to life, which includes the continued revitalization of the Chalk River Laboratories campus.
- AECL and CNL officially broke ground on the new Advanced Nuclear Materials Research Centre (ANMRC), a state-of-the-art research complex that will be one of the largest nuclear research facilities ever built in Canada. Construction also continued on the Science Collaboration Centre, which is scheduled for completion in 2023.
- CNL’s small modular reactor (SMR) siting program continues to move forward, with one SMR vendor preparing to submit their environmental impact statement (EIS) to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). CNL also launched the next intake for its highly-successful Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI) program, which was expanded this year to invite applications from Canadian universities.
- As part of the CNRI program, CNL initiated collaboration agreements with two companies – General Fusion and First Light Fusion – to advance fusion-based technologies and capabilities.
- CNL is now in a position to perform Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) compliant studies within its Biology Research Facility (BRF) and its Analytical Chemistry laboratories, a designation brings exciting new commercial opportunities to CNL.
- CNL continued to pursue meaningful engagement with local Indigenous communities and to explore opportunities for collaboration. As part of that work, CNL, AECL and the Sagkeeng Anicinabe First Nation announced the launch of ‘Nigan Aki,’ an independent Sagkeeng environmental monitoring program that will be implemented at the Whiteshell Laboratories site.
- CNL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Portland Holdings Limited, a leading Canadian investment firm, to collaborate in the areas of clean energy, health sciences and environmental responsibility.
- CNL and AECL welcomed over 3,000 visitors to the Chalk River Laboratories for the 2022 Open House, giving the public a rare opportunity to see Canada’s national nuclear laboratories up close.
- CNL brought the Port Granby Project to a safe and successful conclusion, which involved the safe excavation and transfer of 1.3 million tonnes of low-level radioactive waste from an unstable site to a newly constructed waste management facility.
- The CNSC approved the renewal of CNL’s waste nuclear substance licence for the Port Hope Project for a 10-year period.
- Alongside AECL, CNL continued to develop relationships with the academic community by signing agreements with a number of Canadian universities, including the University of Ottawa, Ontario Tech University, McMaster University and the University of New Brunswick.
- CNL has been awarded Gold Certification by the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) for the Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) campus, a designation that reflects CNL’s continued efforts to preserve and protect vulnerable species and their habitats on the Chalk River site.
- CNL achieved a strong safety record in 2022, surpassing 5 million hours without a Loss of Time Injury (LTI) as a company, while Whiteshell Laboratories personnel celebrated two years without an LTI.
“CNL employees demonstrated a tremendous amount of flexibility and resiliency during the pandemic, and that’s what makes this year so special,” added McBrearty. “Despite all the challenges and setbacks caused by that experience, we bounced back very well in 2022 to realize some major accomplishments. It has not always been easy, but I am very proud to work on the CNL team, and I am really excited about what is in store for CNL in 2023.”