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February 29, 2024

Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith Tours the Chalk River Laboratories

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories were incredibly excited to welcome the Honourable Todd Smith, Minister of Energy for the Province of Ontario, to the Chalk River Laboratories earlier today. AECL President and CEO, Fred Dermarkar, and CNL President and CEO, Joe McBrearty, were joined by local elected officials and other special guests to meet with Minister Smith, who took some time to tour Canada’s national nuclear laboratories and to address AECL and CNL staff.

CNL currently supports the safe and reliable operation of Ontario’s nuclear fleet through the delivery of nuclear products and services to the province’s utilities, their suppliers, and the broader nuclear industry. With the Government of Ontario planning to expand nuclear energy capacity in the province over the coming decades, including the construction of new large-scale and small nuclear reactors and the refurbishment of existing reactors, CNL is poised to play an important role in supporting these major projects.

“On behalf of everyone at AECL and CNL, I want to thank Minister Smith for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit the Chalk River Laboratories, and to learn about all work we are doing to support Ontario’s energy grid, which is one of the cleanest in the world,” commented Mr. McBrearty. “With the Government of Ontario now looking to expand its nuclear capacity, we believe there is an opportunity to build on our already-close relationship with the province, leveraging CNL’s extensive resources to help Ontario successfully deploy the nuclear energy it requires to cleanly and reliably power its future.”

As part of his visit, Minister Smith toured the construction site of the Advanced Nuclear Materials Research Centre (ANMRC), a state-of-the-art research complex that will be one of the largest nuclear research facilities ever built in Canada. Scheduled for completion in the spring of 2028, the 10,000-square-metre facility will feature 23 laboratories, accommodate 160 employees, and consolidate key capabilities from aging facilities scheduled for decommissioning at the site. Among other functions, the ANMRC is designed to support Canada’s clean energy goals by providing services critical to the life extension and long-term reliability of existing reactors, including Canada’s fleet of CANDU® nuclear power reactors, as well as other designs from around the world.

In constructing the ANMRC, CNL made it a priority to retain qualified local organizations wherever possible, and to incentivize the use of local resources in the work, to ensure the project brings economic benefits and employment opportunities to the region. As a result of these efforts, over 100 Ontario vendors have been engaged in supporting the project, major components are being fabricated in the province, including steel hot cell forms in Cambridge, Ontario, and all of the main project partners are located in Ontario. Overall, it is estimated that over 300 people are employed on the ANMRC through CNL’s construction partners, in addition to CNL’s own staff.

As part of the tour, Minister Smith also learned more about CNL’s research and technologies related to hydrogen, a versatile, clean energy solution that could help decarbonize Canada’s transportation sector, as well as CNL’s work to produce a promising new medical isotope, Actinium-225. Last year, in partnership with ITM, CNL announced the launch of a new joint venture company called ActineerTM Inc. that was established to produce industrial-scale quantities of the radioisotope, which has shown significant potential as a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer. Finally, Minister Smith was updated on CNL’s skills and capabilities in decommissioning and waste management, which are available to the province to support their own nuclear lifecycle needs.

According to the 2022 Independent Electricity System Operator’s Pathways to Decarbonization Report, in less than 30 years Ontario could need to more than double its electricity generation capacity from 42,000 MW today to 88,000 MW in 2050. The report forecast an additional 17,800 MW of nuclear power could be required to meet that increased demand. In response to this growing electricity demand, Ontario has broken ground on the first grid-scale SMR at Darlington; announced plans to construct three additional SMRs, also at Darlington; started pre-development work to site the first-large scale build at the Bruce Power site; and announced plans to proceed with next steps toward refurbishing Pickering Nuclear Generating Station’s “B” units.

“In recent years, it is becoming increasingly clear that new nuclear energy must be deployed here in Canada if we are going to meet our emission reductions targets,” added McBrearty. “Ontario is leading the way in pursuing these projects, and CNL is here and available to help in the development and testing of these next-generation nuclear energy technologies.”

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