Public attitude survey conducted in communities surrounding the Whiteshell Laboratories site reveals strong public confidence in Canadian Nuclear Laboratories
Chalk River, ON – March 29, 2023 – Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is pleased to announce that the results of a new public attitude survey show strong public confidence in CNL as the operator of the Whiteshell Laboratories. With a majority of respondents stating that they view CNL as trustworthy (60%), capable (59%) and transparent (56%), the survey revealed generally positive attitudes towards CNL and the program of work being carried out at Whiteshell, which involves the clean-up and closure of the former nuclear research site in Pinawa, Manitoba.
Conducted by Probe Research, the survey was commissioned by CNL to gauge public opinion and understanding about CNL in the operation of the Whiteshell Laboratories site. Completed by phone with 368 residents in Eastern Manitoba, the survey also found that 51% of respondents are very or somewhat familiar with CNL, while 62% are familiar with the Whiteshell Laboratories site; 60% of respondents consider CNL very or somewhat approachable; and, 53% believe that CNL is very or somewhat committed to the best interests of the region.
The Government of Canada announced the closure of the Whiteshell Laboratories in 1998, a process which includes the decommissioning of the former research reactor at the site, WR-1, and the restoration of the site to an environmentally-sound state. Since then, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), the federal Crown corporation which owns the Whiteshell Laboratories, has been working with CNL to accelerate the closure of the campus. This program of work, which is known as the Whiteshell Laboratories Restoration Project, is expected to be substantially completed by 2027.
“Understanding the attitudes of our community is incredibly important to the work we are doing at the Whiteshell Laboratories site, and I want to thank the residents who took the time to participate in this survey,” commented Kerry Rod, General Manager of the Whiteshell Laboratories Restoration Project. “While CNL is pleased with the results, the survey has identified areas where we have the opportunity to improve. We take these concerns to heart, and will use them to guide improvements as we plan the next phase of our public engagement program.”
Foremost among those concerns was the impact the project would have on jobs and economic development in the region, with 75% of respondents stating that they were either very or somewhat concerned. In order to address this issue and to help encourage entrepreneurship, business innovation and commercialization in the region, the Canadian National Energy Alliance, the consortium that manages CNL, has donated nearly $650,000 in recent years to North Forge East, a non-profit organization that supports new business start-ups in the Province of Manitoba.
Other concerns identified through the survey include CNL’s decommissioning and waste management plans for the WR-1 reactor and the site’s nuclear waste; the health and safety of the community residents; the environmental impacts of the work; the health and safety of the workers; and the long-term plans for the future of the site. CNL believes that its plans safely address all of these issues, and will make these topics a priority in future communications with residents.
“Whether it is the management of nuclear waste, the safety of our staff, or the protection of the environment, CNL shares the same priorities as the public and local Indigenous communities, and they are incorporated into our planning,” added Rod. “It is really important to CNL that we get this message out to the public more effectively, and so we will use the results of this survey to try to reach more people and to improve the way that we engage with the public.”
CNL is currently scheduled to appear before the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in 2024 to renew its five-year site licence, where it will review a program of work that involves the removal of facilities, buildings, and general infrastructure at the site, as well as the restoration of impacted lands. Residents are able to participate in this regulatory process, and encouraged to learn more by visiting the CNSC website at www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca.
A full summary of the survey results can be made available upon request by contacting email@example.com. To learn more about CNL, including the Whiteshell Laboratories Restoration Project, please visit www.cnl.ca.
As Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology laboratory, and working under the direction of AECL, CNL is a world leader in the development of innovative nuclear science and technology products and services. Guided by an ambitious corporate strategy known as Vision 2030, CNL fulfills three strategic priorities of national importance – restoring and protecting the environment, advancing clean energy technologies, and contributing to the health of Canadians.
By leveraging the assets owned by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), CNL also serves as the nexus between government, the nuclear industry, the broader private sector and the academic community. CNL works in collaboration with these sectors to 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.
To learn more about CNL, please visit www.cnl.ca.
Director, Corporate Communications