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Environmental Protection Review Report: Application for Licence Renewal Cameco Corporation - Cigar Lake Operation


The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) conducts Environmental Protection Reviews (EPR) for all facilities with potential project-environmental interactions, in accordance with its mandate under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA), to ensure the protection of the environment and the health of persons. An EPR is a science-based environmental technical assessment conducted by CNSC staff. The fulfillment of other aspects of the CNSC’s mandate, such as safety and security, are met through other regulatory oversight activities.

This EPR Report was written by CNSC staff for the Commission, Indigenous peoples and the public. It describes the scientific, evidence-based findings from CNSC staff’s review of the application by Cameco Corporation (Cameco) to renew the Uranium Mine Licence (UML-MINE-CIGAR.01/2021) in order to continue its current activities at the Cigar Lake Operation in northern Saskatchewan.

CNSC staff’s EPR Report focuses on items that are of Indigenous, public and regulatory interest, such as releases of radiological and hazardous substances to the receiving environment, valued ecosystem components and species at risk.

This EPR Report includes CNSC staff’s assessment of documents submitted by the licensee for the Cigar Lake Operation from 2013 to 2020, as well as, but not limited to the following:

  • Cameco’s Preliminary Decommissioning Plan
  • Cameco’s annual reports
  • Cameco’s 2017 Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA)
  • the results of CNSC’s Independent Environmental Monitoring Program
  • the results from other environmental monitoring programs and/or health studies (e.g., completed by other levels of government) in proximity to the Cigar Lake Operation

The information provided in this EPR Report supports the conclusions made by CNSC staff in Commission Member Document (CMD) 21-H2. Based on CNSC staff’s assessment of Cameco’s documentation, supporting documents and past performance, CNSC staff conclude that the potential risks from radiological and hazardous releases to the atmospheric, terrestrial, aquatic, geological, hydrogeological and human environments from Cameco’s Cigar Lake Operation are negligible. The potential risks to the environment from these releases are not distinguishable from natural background and the potential risk to humans is similar to health outcomes in the general public. There is low probability that aquatic and terrestrial species in the immediate vicinity of the site may experience effects during operation when very conservative assumptions are used. The predicted effects are expected to return to pre-operational conditions over time after the site is closed and decommissioned. CNSC staff also conclude that Cameco continues to implement and maintain effective environmental protection measures to adequately protect the environment and the health of persons. Should the Commission decide to renew Cameco’s Cigar Lake Operation licence, CNSC staff will continue to verify and evaluate, through ongoing licensing and compliance activities and reviews, that the environment and the health of persons are protected and will continue to be protected over the proposed licence period.

For more information on the Cigar Lake Operation and Cameco’s licence renewal application, visit CNSC’s webpage and Cameco’s webpage.

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