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Decommissioning of a plutonium tower facility at Chalk River Laboratories

Start date: September 13, 2004
Type: Screening
CEAR reference number: 04-01-6513
Proponent: Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL)
Location: Chalk River, Ontario

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Project Description

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has received an application from AECL for authorization to decommission a plutonium tower facility located at the Chalk River Laboratories. This authorization would require an amendment to AECL’s operating licence pursuant to section 24 of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA). The plutonium tower facility is a Class IB nuclear facility under the Class I Nuclear Facilities Regulations.

This facility was used to develop means to extract plutonium from fuel rods irradiated in the NRX reactor and operated for a few years in the late 1940s. The building was permanently shut down in 1954. All process equipment was removed from the building, and an initial clean-up was carried out. Further clean-up and dismantling was carried out in the 1980s. Decommissioning include the following activities: demolition of annexes, concrete tower, building structure; segregation of solid wastes and transfer to waste management facilities at the CRL; and, removal of any contaminated soil and site restoration.

Before the Commission makes its decision on AECL’s application, an environmental assessment must be completed in compliance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The purpose of an environmental assessment is to identify the possible environmental effects of a proposed project, and to determine whether these effects can be mitigated before the project is allowed to proceed.

Further Information

CNSC maintains a public registry of documents related to its Environmental Assessments. Lists and copies of documents may be obtained upon request. For questions or information directly related to this environmental assessment, please contact:

Brian Torrie
Environmental Assessment Officer

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

CNSC regulates the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect health, safety, security and the environment and to respect Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

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