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National Research Universal (NRU) Reactor Long-term Management Project

Environmental assessment Start date:  March 31, 2009
Type:  Screening
CEAR reference number: 09-01-46668
Proponent: Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL)
Location: Chalk River, Ontario

Latest Update

Project Description

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has received a project description from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) for an approval to construct and install certain supporting infrastructure for the National Research Universal Reactor (NRU) and for modifications to support the long-term operation of the NRU Reactor at Chalk River Laboratories, Ontario.

The Project to secure the long-term operation of the NRU Reactor would include construction, installation or modifications to the following facilities or systems:

  • Light Water Detritiation Facility;
  • Fissile Waste Storage System;
  • Replacement of Moly Production Facility Ventilation System;
  • Connection of Moly Production Facility to the Active Drain System; and
  • New waste management infrastructure for large items generated as a result of refurbishment/upgrading recommended by the Integrated Safety Review (ISR).

AECL has requested a renewal of the CRL operating licence until 2016.  The purpose of the proposed licence renewal of the NRU Reactor is to allow AECL to continue its activities in support of nuclear power development, isotope production, fundamental research in materials research and other commercial applications.

The scope of the EA includes bounding timeframes of 2021 for potential operation of the NRU reactor and the supporting infrastructure at the Chalk River Laboratories site for medical isotope production. The EA is used solely as a tool to assess potential environmental impacts of a project, in this case the continued operation of the NRU reactor beyond the current licence expiry date of October 2011. No changes are proposed to the way the NRU Reactor is currently operated.

The bounding timeframe of the EA does not have any bearing on the term of the licence granted by the Commission.

CNSC authorization to construct, install and modify the NRU facilities requires an approval to AECL’s Nuclear Research and Test Establishment Operating Licence, pursuant to subsection 24(2) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA).

Before the Commission may consider a decision on licensing under the NSCA regarding AECL’s proposal, a screening level environmental assessment (EA) must be completed in compliance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.  The purpose of an EA is to identify the possible environmental effects of a proposed project, and determine whether these effects can be mitigated before the project is allowed to proceed.

Project Milestone



Preparation of draft Scoping Information Document


June 2009

Commission Decision on Scoping Information Document


July 2009

Submission of EIS


January 2010

Review of EIS by Federal and Responsible Authorities


January 2010

Submission of Revised EIS


September 2010

Preparation of draft EA Screening Report


October-November 2010

Public Review of EA Screening Report


November 2010-January 2011

Review of EA Screening Report by Federal and Responsible Authorities


November 2010-January 2011

Finalize EA Screening Report


January 2011

Commission Decision on EA Screening Report


February 2011

Related Documents

Further Information

The 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, contact the CNSC.

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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