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Independent Environmental Monitoring Program: Nuclear Power Demonstration Waste Facility

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to operate the Nuclear Power Demonstration Waste Facility (NPDWF), located in Rolphton, Ontario. CNL implements an effluent verification and monitoring plan for the NPDWF, which controls and monitors emissions of radioactive and hazardous substances from the facility.

The reactor at this site operated from 1962 until 1987 and was Canada’s first nuclear power reactor to supply electricity to Ontario Hydro’s grid. In 1988, the facility was partially decommissioned with the reactor shutdown and removal of the fuel and power generating equipment from the site.

As part of its decommissioning process, CNL is proposing that it fully decommission the NPDWF through an in situ (leaving in place) approach. Before the CNSC can make a licensing decision on this proposal, the CNSC must conduct an environmental assessment (EA). The CNSC is currently conducting an EA under the underway the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 to determine if the proposed activities would cause significant adverse environmental effects.

The Independent Environmental Monitoring Program (IEMP) results for 2018 confirm that the public and the environment around the NDPWF are protected and that there are no expected health impacts.


Nuclear Power Demonstration Waste Facility


Results Table

1 The < symbol indicates that a result is below the provided laboratory analytical detection limit.

2 N/A – not available

CNSC staff member collecting chokecherries near NPDWF in 2018.

CNSC staff member collecting chokecherries near NPDWF in 2018.


Under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, licensees of nuclear facilities are required to implement an environmental monitoring program to demonstrate that the public and the environment are protected from emissions related to the facility’s nuclear activities. The results of these monitoring programs are submitted to the CNSC to ensure compliance with applicable guidelines and limits, as set out in regulations that govern Canada’s nuclear industry.

The CNSC has implemented its IEMP to verify that the public and the environment around licensed nuclear facilities are protected. It is separate from, but complementary to, the CNSC’s ongoing compliance verification program. The IEMP involves taking samples from public areas around the facilities, and measuring and analyzing the amount of radioactiveand hazardous substances in those samples. CNSC staff collect the samples and send them to the CNSC’s independent laboratory for testing and analysis.

2018 results

The 2018 IEMP sampling plan for the NPDWF focused on radioactive and hazardous substances. A site-specific sampling plan was developed based on CNL’s effluent verification and monitoring plan, CSA Group standards and the CNSC’s regulatory experience with the facility. The Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) also collaborated with the CNSC to provide locations and plants of interest for sampling. It is a priority for the CNSC that IEMP sampling reflects Indigenous traditional land use, values and knowledge where possible so that our IEMP results are meaningful for the community.

CNSC staff collected water, soil and vegetation samples, and with the assistance of AOO Knowledge Holders also collected traditional food and medicinal plants such as sumac leaves and berries, balsam, white pine, wintergreen, choke cherries, wild sarsaparilla root, pearly everlasting and lichen samples. View detailed sampling data.

The level of radioactivity and hazardous substances measured in water, soil, vegetation and traditional plant samples were below available guidelines and CNSC screening levels, and were comparable to samples collected at a reference location. As many of the foods and plants of interest to the AOO are typically not assessed by the CNSC or other federal or provincial bodies, there are no established guidelines or screening levels for these samples. In this case, the CNSC collected the same species upstream, upwind and not impacted by the operations of NPDWF to use as reference samples.

For radioactivity, CNSC screening levels are based on conservative assumptions about the exposure that would result in a dose of 0.1 mSv/year. No health impacts are expected at this dose level.


The 2018 IEMP results confirm that Indigenous communities, the public and the environment in the vicinity of the NPDWF are protected and that there are no expected health impacts. These results are consistent with the results submitted by CNL, confirming that the licensee’s effluent verification and monitoring plan protects the health and safety of people and the environment.

To obtain the full technical IEMP report, contact us at or call 613-995-5894 or 1-800-668-5284 (in Canada). Please provide the name of the facility and the report year.

Focus on health

The CNSC reviews the results of the local public health unit health reports and data to provide further independent verification that the health of people in and around the NPDWF is not impacted by the site. The Renfrew County and District Health Unit monitors the health of populations around the NPDWF, and disease rates are compared to other similar populations to detect any potential health outcomes that may be of concern. From 2010‒2014, for all cancers and sexes combined, Renfrew County and District had similar incidence and mortality rates as Ontario.

Visit the Renfrew County and District Health Unit website to view health reports:

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