Canada’s national nuclear laboratory collaborates with federal entities on project to make Canadian borders safer and more efficient

Chalk River, ON – January 21, 2019 – Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, is pleased to announce that it celebrated alongside other federal partners the commissioning of a brand new radiation portal monitor (RPM) facility during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Chalk River Laboratories campus today. Led by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), with support from the Canadian Safety and Security Program at Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s (AECL) Federal Nuclear Science and Technology Work Plan, the project is being carried out to enhance border security and efficiency at Canadian border crossings and ports of entry.

CNL President and CEO, Mark Lesinski, joined AECL President and CEO, Richard Sexton; Phil Lightfoot, Executive Director, CBSA; Guy Jonkmans, Radiological & Nuclear Portfolio Manager, DRDC’s Centre for Security Science and a number of public officials and business executives to cut the ribbon on the new facility. With the newly-commissioned RPM now ready for operation, CNL expects testing to commence later this year, which will involve the simulation of threat materials hidden within transportation vehicles, allowing researchers to probe the technology for vulnerabilities and improvement opportunities.

“These monitors serve a really important function in the protection of Canada’s borders, ensuring that illicit nuclear material isn’t making its way into the country,” explained Mark Lesinski. “While they are proven to be effective in protecting our border crossings and ports of entry, it’s important that we continue to challenge their performance in real-world situations so that we continue to innovate. As a nuclear-licensed site with unique facilities and expertise, CNL’s Chalk River Laboratories has the necessary capabilities to safely handle special nuclear materials and carry out this testing, allowing the CBSA to improve its monitoring technologies and techniques.”

“Improving the safety and security of Canadians through nuclear innovation is one of AECL’s priorities under the Federal Nuclear Science and Technology Work Plan, and today provides an important and concrete example of how nuclear innovation supports priorities across the government – nuclear and non-nuclear.” Richard Sexton, President and CEO of AECL.

Though the project is largely focused on security, the results are expected to offer other benefits to the CBSA. More than 2 million containers pass through radiation portal monitors each year; with the data from this project, improvements to the RPM could result in improved identification of illegal contents, and help to better distinguish naturally occurring radioactive material, creating a more efficient border process for trade.

“While these RPMs use sophisticated software to determine whether the contents of a shipping container require further investigation, it’s important that we test them using real nuclear materials,” commented Phil Lightfoot, Executive Director, CBSA. Safeguarding and securing these materials is a worldwide concern, so we must stay ahead of anyone who wants to use these materials for nefarious purposes, which is why this project is so important.”

CNL is growing its capabilities in nuclear safety and security. Last year, the company announced the opening of its National Innovation Centre for Cybersecurity at Knowledge Park in Fredericton, NB, opening the doors on a brand new, multi-million dollar research facility that represents a major addition to Canada’s national cyber security capabilities. CNL has also identified nuclear detection, forensics and response as one of its strategic initiatives, and is working to establish a centre for government agencies and commercial partners to develop, test, calibrate and validate nuclear forensics, non-proliferation, security, and response technologies and materials.

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About CNL

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is a world leader in nuclear science and technology offering unique capabilities and solutions across a wide range of industries. Actively involved with industry-driven research and development in nuclear, transportation, clean technology, energy, defence, security and life sciences, we provide solutions to keep these sectors competitive internationally. With ongoing investments in new facilities and a focused mandate, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is well positioned for the future. A new performance standard reinforced with a strong safety culture underscores every activity. For more information on the complete range of services Canadian Nuclear Laboratories please visit or contact [email protected].



Patrick Quinn
Director, Corporate Communications
CNL, 1-866-886-2325