For more than 70 years Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has been making advances in nuclear science and technology in the interest of Canadians. This includes the production of medical isotopes that have treated over 1 billion patients worldwide, as well as developments in clean energy which help ensure clean air to breathe and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Through investments in the revitalization of the laboratories, that mission of innovative science will continue into the future.
This proud history has created nuclear liabilities in the form of waste. Since Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) site operations began, wastes produced have been managed consistently with the evolving best practices and regulations. But times have changed, and as a responsible steward of the environment, CNL is seeking to retrieve and dispose of these wastes using modern engineering technology.
Both the Government of Canada and CNL recognize that leaving the waste for future generations is not a sustainable option. CNL is proposing to build and operate this project, but it will be paid for by the Government of Canada, and overseen by the federal government, through the Crown Corporation Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, and will only go ahead if approved by the federal regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
The NSDF is key to improving the state of legacy waste that is already at the Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) site. Presently, some wastes are temporarily contained in waste storage systems that protect workers, the public and the environment, but continuing to build more and more temporary storage is neither sustainable nor financially responsible. Other wastes exist in soils affected by historic and ongoing operations or historic building materials that require decommissioning. CNL has a wealth of operating experience for low level waste (LLW) facilities and there is international operating experience for LLW disposal facilities.
NSDF has been specifically designed to isolate these waste materials from the environment. The highly conservative design life of the facility is in excess of 550 years, at which point the radioactivity will have decayed to levels you would find in the natural environment.
We need to take action. The need for a modern LLW disposal facility at CRL is imminent. An operational NSDF would allow CNL to clean up the CRL campus through carefully decommissioning of aging and redundant nuclear facilities, and conduct important environmental remediation by removing contaminated soils. NSDF is a safe, engineered modern facility that ensures these materials do not pose any risk to the public or the environment.