Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) established the Whiteshell Laboratories complex for nuclear research during the early 1960s. A major focus of the program at Whiteshell was the WR-1 organically cooled research reactor, which was shut down in 1985. The reactor is partially decommissioned and in safe storage awaiting final decommissioning.
In 1997, AECL decided to discontinue its programs at the site, and decommissioning planning began. Whiteshell’s decommissioning licence was originally issued in 2003 and renewed in 2008, and has been amended several times. The current licence expires in December 2018. The facilities are currently being decommissioned by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Ltd.
- Facility information
- Latest facility-specific updates
- Disclosure protocol
- In situ decommissioning of Whiteshell Reactor #1
Location: Whiteshell Laboratories is located approximately 10 km west of Pinawa and 100 km northeast of Winnipeg, on the east bank of the Winnipeg River.
Licensee: Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Ltd. (CNL)
Status: In decommissioning phase
Licence last issued: January 26, 2016
Licence expires: December 31, 2018
Latest facility-specific updates
- April 12, 2018: CNSC releases 2017 Independent Environmental Monitoring Program results for the Whiteshell Laboratories site. Results confirm that the public and the environment around this site are protected.
- March 8, 2017: Record of Decision on the Scope of Environmental Assessments for Three Proposed Projects at Existing Canadian Nuclear Laboratories' Facilities
- January 26, 2016: The CNSC approves CNL’s request for a licence amendment to reissue in an updated format the nuclear research and test establishment decommissioning licence for its Whiteshell Laboratories
As part of the CNSC's regulatory requirements, major licensees must have robust public information and disclosure programs in place. View CNL’s Public Information Program on their In the Community page.
In situ decommissioning of Whiteshell Reactor #1
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is proposing to decommission Whiteshell Reactor #1 (WR-1 reactor), a former nuclear research reactor that operated until 1985, using an approach that was not previously assessed when the decommissioning licence was first issued. The WR-1 reactor is located at the Whiteshell Laboratories (WL) site in Pinawa, MB, approximately 100 km northeast of Winnipeg, near the towns of Lac du Bonnet and Seven Sisters.
CNL is proposing an in situ (leaving in place) decommissioning approach. In situ decommissioning involves preparing systems and structures for grouting. The below-grade grouted structure will encapsulate and contain radiological sources and hazardous materials for a defined period of institutional control.
The following activities are being proposed:
- preparation for in situ decommissioning
- grouting of below-grade (underground) structures and systems
- removal of above-grade structures and systems
- installation of engineered cover over grouted area
- final site restoration
- long-term care and maintenance activities
Under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, CNL’s proposal requires an amendment to its existing decommissioning waste facility licence issued by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Before the CNSC can make a licensing decision on this proposal, it requires an environmental assessment (EA) conducted under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and an EA decision affirming that the proposed activities will not cause significant adverse environmental effects.
On March 8, 2017, the Commission issued a decision on the extent of information to be included in the EA. The decision took into account the public comments received related to the project description, as well as CNSC staff recommendations. The Commission determined that the proposed project must include the factors mandated in paragraphs 19(1)(a) to (h) of CEAA 2012, with no additional factors requiring consideration.
Activities related to the environmental impact statement (EIS), environmental assessment (EA) and licensing
|Notice of commencement of an environmental assessment (source: CEAA website)||May 16, 2016||Complete|
|Public comments invited on project description (source: CEAA website)||June 2 to July 4, 2016||Complete|
|Notice of participant funding offering||June 3 to September 30, 2016||Complete|
|Public comments invited on CNL’s draft EIS (source: CEAA website)||October 5, 2017||Complete|
|Public intervention period on the Commission member documents, including the EA report||To be determined|
|Commission hearing for EA and licensing decisions||To be determined by Secretariat|
- Information about the environmental assessment for the in situ decommissioning of Whiteshell Reactor #1
- Learn more about the decommissioning of the Whiteshell Laboratories (source: CNL website)
- Administrative Protocol between Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and the CNSC for the Renewal of the Whiteshell Laboratories Licence and the Proposed In Situ Decommissioning of the WR-1 Reactor (PDF)
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