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Regulatory review status for the near surface disposal facility (NSDF)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has been authorized to build an engineered mound near the ground’s surface on the Chalk River Laboratories site. The near surface disposal facility (NSDF), to be built for the purpose of disposing low‑level radioactive waste, will contain multiple cells made of systems that cover the base and top of each cell*, collect leachate, detect leaks, and monitor the surrounding environment.

The project will also include:

  • a wastewater treatment plant
  • supporting infrastructure, such as:
    • security systems to monitor access and egress
    • a truck wheel wash, vehicle monitoring and weighing stations
    • workstations and change facilities, construction trailers, and marine containers or tents for storage of construction materials

*The final cover will be applied once a cell is full.

Before the Commission made a licensing decision on this proposal, CNSC staff completed an environmental assessment (EA) under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. This involved publishing an assessment of the licence amendment and producing an EA report based on the information in CNL’s licensing submission, the final environmental impact statement and other supporting documentation.

CNSC environmental assessment process

Before the Commission could make a decision, CNSC staff had to review a sufficient amount of evidence and be able to show that the proposed NSDF activities would not cause significant adverse environmental effects. The CNSC made this information available as Commission member documents before Part 1 of the 2-part public hearing.

Environmental assessment start date: May 5, 2016
Reference number: 80122

Application submitted

March 31, 2017 CNL submits and CNSC starts review of licence application


January 24, 2022 CNSC Commission Member Document (CMD) released in advance of hearing
July 2, 2021 CNSC completes review of final EIS
May 28, 2021 CNL submits final EIS
January 26, 2021 Update on the status of the environmental assessment process for the NSDF project
December 4, 2020 CNL submits draft final EIS
April 9, 2020 Review team completes technical review of revised draft EIS
January 9, 2020 Update on the status of the environmental assessment process for the NSDF project
December 20, 2019 CNL submits revised draft EIS and licence documentation
March 8, 2019 Notice of second round of participant funding
November 24, 2017 Update on status of project
October 2-4, 2017 CNSC open houses (Deep River, Pembroke, and Sheenboro)
August 31, 2017 CNSC completes initial review of draft EIS
April 26-27, 2017 CNSC open houses (Deep River and Sheenboro)
March 17, 2017 Public comments invited on draft EIS
March 8, 2017 Record of decision on the scope of the EA
October 19, 2016 Public comments invited on the revised project description
May 25, 2016 Notice of participant funding
May 24, 2016 Public comments invited on project description
May 5, 2016 Notice of commencement of the EA

Public hearing

August 10, 2023 Public Commission hearing
May 31 - June 3, 2022 Part 2 Public Commission hearing
February 22, 2022 Part 1 Public Commission hearing

Commission decisions

January 9, 2024 Record of Decision: Commission amends CNL’s licence for Chalk River Laboratories to authorize the construction of an NSDF
July 5, 2022 News release: Commission seeks additional information regarding Indigenous consultation, for Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ application to authorize construction of a near surface disposal facility
June 9, 2023 Notice of Adjournment of Public Hearing

Licence amended

January 9, 2024 News Release: Commission amends CNL’s licence for Chalk River Laboratories to authorize the construction of an NSDF

Compliance activities

To be confirmed

In relation to the NSDF project, in May 2021, a request for a regional assessment of radioactive waste disposal in the Ottawa Valley under the Impact Assessment Act was made to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada conducted a detailed review of the request. In July 2021, the Minister decided that a regional assessment was not warranted

Reference number: 81624


For general CNSC updates, subscribe to the CNSC’s mailing list. For information directly related to this project, please contact:

Environmental Assessment Division
Telephone: 613-995-7948 or 1-800-668-5284
Fax: 613-995-5086
Mailing address: Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
P. O. Box 1046, Station B
Ottawa, ON K1P 5S9

Additional resources

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