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Spring 2021 update on the Near Surface Disposal Facility project

As work continues on both the environmental and licensing assessments for the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ (CNL’s) proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) project in Deep River, Ontario, we will provide regular updates on the project. The NSDF is a proposed engineered waste disposal facility that would be designed to dispose of solid low-level radioactive waste generated by CNL.

Where are we now?

This project is currently in the environmental assessment (EA) and licensing technical review stage.

An EA is designed to minimize or avoid adverse environmental effects before they occur, and incorporate environmental factors into the decision-making process. Under the EA process, CNL is required to submit an environmental impact statement (EIS) document, which provides an analysis of the potential environmental effects of the project and measures to mitigate those impacts. CNL submitted an initial draft EIS in November 2019, and a federal-provincial technical review began in December 2019. Following several rounds of comments during this technical review, CNL revised the EIS and formally submitted a new draft on December 4, 2020. Upon receipt of this revised document, CNSC staff determined it did not provide sufficient information related to Indigenous engagement. Once CNL submits a new draft EIS, CNSC staff will conduct another 30-day review to determine if it is acceptable.

At the same time, CNSC staff are reviewing CNL’s responses to CNSC comments on licensing documentation and performing final assessments of the NSDF safety case. A safety case is documentation required from the proponent to demonstrate how they will maintain safety throughout the lifecycle of the project.

CNSC staff assessments are based on regulatory criteria, science, evidence, international guidelines and best practices. CNSC staff will provide feedback to CNL throughout the assessment process, which will continue until they are satisfied that the proponent’s proposal meets all of the regulatory requirements.

Next steps

Once CNSC staff are satisfied that the information submitted by CNL is complete and meets both EA and licensing requirements, they will prepare an environmental assessment report and licensing documentation for the public Commission hearings. These documents will summarize CNSC staff’s technical assessments, findings and recommendations to the Commission to inform Commission decisions on the EA and licensing.

Participation by Indigenous groups and members of the public is an important part of the Commission hearing process. The Commission will provide details on how to get involved once Commission hearing dates are scheduled.


CNSC staff held a public webinar in December 2020 to provide an update on the project and answer questions about their assessments. A series of additional webinars about the NSDF project will begin on March 24, 2021.

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