Nanos survey conducted in communities surrounding the Chalk River Laboratories finds solid public confidence and awareness in CNL operations and activities
Chalk River, ON – April 06, 2022 – Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, is pleased to announce that the results of a recent public attitude survey show strong public confidence and awareness in CNL operations and activities, including the Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) project. With a majority of respondents stating that they are confident that CNL can safely construct and operate the NSDF, the survey results reflect CNL’s commitment to public engagement and represent good news for CNL as it nears the final regulatory hearing on the proposed project.
Conducted by Nanos Research to gauge public attitude towards CNL, the survey was commissioned by CNL and completed randomly by phone with more than 500 residents within Renfrew and Pontiac counties. Among the key findings, a majority of respondents are confident that the regulatory process for the NSDF has been followed by CNL staff; there is broad awareness about CNL in the community; and there is growing awareness about work being conducted at the Chalk River Laboratories, including site revitalization, the NSDF project, and CNL’s small modular reactor (SMR) program.
“CNL has made it a priority to better engage the public on the work we are doing at the Chalk River Laboratories, and it is clear that these efforts have paid off,” commented Joe McBrearty, CNL’s President and CEO. “In particular, we appreciate the public confidence in our work to safely construct and operate the NSDF, a project that allows us to clean up historic waste on the site, better protect the local environment, and position the campus for the future. The NSDF team has worked incredibly hard to maintain open and honest dialogue with local residents about the project, and that commitment is reflected in these results.”
The survey results also provide CNL with insight into the effectiveness of its ongoing public engagement program and evolving public perceptions since 2018, when CNL last conducted a similar attitude survey. Among the improvements in public awareness and confidence, results show an increase in awareness of the Chalk River Laboratories, CNL’s activities to revitalize the campus, CNL’s NSDF project, and in CNL’s SMR program.
But the most interesting results relate to CNL’s NSDF project, which would establish an engineered disposal facility for low-level radioactive waste at the Chalk River Laboratories, owned by a federal Crown corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). The proposed project is under review by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and is subject to federal assessment, which has been underway since 2017, under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. As CNL approaches a final public hearing and decision from the CNSC, the survey results show that a clear majority of local residents have confidence that the staff at the Chalk River Laboratories site have followed the necessary regulatory review process in developing their proposal for the NSDF and in their capabilities to safely construct and operate the facility.
“With respect to the NSDF, I think that local residents understand that CNL is taking this project very seriously, and that our employees are committed to protecting the environment, especially the Ottawa River,” commented Zack Smith, CNL’s Vice-President of Environmental Remediation Management. “CNL is also committed to providing members of the public and Indigenous communities with the opportunity to participate fully in the evaluation of the proposed facility.”
The CNSC is scheduled to consider CNL’s NSDF application at a final public hearing that begins on May 31, 2022. As part of this process, a public comment period is now open that allow Indigenous communities, the public and other stakeholders to submit their written feedback on the NSDF project to the CNSC. At the hearing, interested parties will also have the opportunity to present their views to CNSC Commissioners directly.
To learn more about the NSDF, and how to participate in the CNSC’s regulatory review process as an intervenor, please visit www.engagewithcnl.ca/nsdf. To view the complete report on the findings from the public attitude survey conducted by Nanos Research, please visit https://engagewithcnl.ca/nsdf/review-and-studies-reports/.
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Director, Corporate Communications