Emergency Response

Emergency Preparedness

CNL is committed to providing the safest environment for our public and our employees. CNL follows the industry and Canadian comprehensive all-hazards approach to safeguard the public from any potential incidents. 

The process begins with our safety-first culture, where preventative measures are taken to ensure that our plans, facilities and equipment are regularly maintained, tested, and inspected. These inspections are made in compliance with policies set out by our regulators which include the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and many others, both provincial and federal.  In the unlikely scenario that an event does occur, CNL has plans to ensure these events are properly managed and risks to people as well as the environment are minimized. These preparations include a trained emergency operation team and subject matter experts who are on-call and ready to respond.   

Emergency preparedness is a highly integrated process. Documentation and plans are aligned and the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) interfaces are clearly established between CNL, the municipalities, the provinces, and the federal government. Drills and exercises to test plans, practice and improve processes are a joint contribution.  While some exercises are limited to CNL sites, they are often partnered with the local community, provincial and federal agencies, as well as industry mutual aid partners.

Chalk River Laboratories (CRL)

With over 3,000 employees, CRL is CNL’s largest facility. The safety of our staff and public is paramount. We all have a part to play and being aware of the risks is the first step to being prepared. 

CRL’s site siren testing routinely takes place on the fourth Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. These alarms can be heard offsite in communities surrounding CRL. It is important to know that these alerts are part of a comprehensive and collaborative plan between CNL and the neighbouring municipalities, to provide protection to not only our own employees and facilities, but also to residents in our neighbouring communities. 

Understanding the sirens at CRL

Primary Zone

CRL Primary Zone thumbnailThe primary zone is the areas in which extensive planning and response preparations for an incident or radiological event are required. The size of each primary zone is defined by the province and the response requirement for each zone is defined by our regulators.  For CRL, the primary zone, in both Ontario and Quebec, is a nine kilometre radius from our reactor. 

If you hear any CRL on site or community alarm outside of routine testing times, please be assured that no immediate action is required of you. In the very unlikely event of a real emergency, should the sirens sound and the situation warrant action on your part, more information and instruction would be provided through local media, provincial emergency response representatives as well as through our website www.cnl.ca. 

What should I do in case of a nuclear emergency?

  • Remain calm.
  • Shelter-in-place. We ask that residents close all windows and ventilation (e.g., air conditioners). This step would help to prevent contamination from entering into the building should the emergency result in an airborne radiological release.
  • Be prepared for a nuclear emergency within the primary zone. Potassium iodide (KI) tablet distribution.
  • Listen to the radio and / or CNL’s website for further instructions and accurate up-to-date information. 
  • Evacuate only when advised to do so by provincial or municipal officials.