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Section K

Planned Activities

K.1     Scope of the section

This section provides a summary of key activities and programs mentioned throughout this report, including planned next steps. Where appropriate, these include measures of international co-operation.

K.2     Introduction

Canada is currently pursuing several initiatives in order to better manage the spent fuel and radioactive waste produced inside its borders and to ensure the safety of humans, society and the environment. These initiatives include:

  • improving regulatory framework,
  • updating, revising and developing new regulatory documents that provide guidance to licensees,
  • developing long-term management options for spent fuel and radioactive waste, and
  • addressing historic and legacy issues.

K.3     Regulatory framework initiatives

In September 2007, the CNSC personnel presented a new approach for regulatory framework to the Commission Tribunal. The CNSC is continually making improvements to the framework to make it more robust and more responsive to current and emerging needs. For example,

  • international standards (IAEA, ISO) are being adapted or adopted as appropriate,
  • external consultations are being aligned with the Treasury Board of Canada's Guidelines for Effective Regulatory Consultations, and
  • an online consultation form was launched to encourage people to participate in the development of regulatory documents.

For future regulatory documents, emphasis will be put on setting requirements for regulations and licence conditions and to provide guidance in regulatory documents. This initiative will result in documents being developed more efficiently while spanning a wider regulatory subject matter.

An analysis over gaps or oversights is being prepared for regulations and related documents to help develop long range plans for the framework. The Regulatory Policy Committee is providing strategic level direction to coordinate the identification, development and implementation of the framework.

Planned initiatives for regulatory documents include Regulatory Policy P-319, Policy Financial Guarantees for Nuclear Facilities and Licensed Activities, and Regulatory Guide G-306, Financial Guarantees for Decommissioning of Licensed Activities. For information on these two regulatory documents, please refer to section F.4.3.

Future planned initiatives for regulatory documents, specific to spent fuel and radioactive waste, include reviewing P-290, Managing Radioactive Waste, and G-320, Assessing the Long-Term Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, to ensure their continued relevancy for licensees. The CNSC also may consider revising G-219, Decommission Planning for Licensed Activities, published in 2000, to ensure it remains relevant to licenses.

K.4     Long-term management of spent fuel


K.4.1     Assessment of options for long-term management of spent fuel (2002-2005)

From 2002 to 2005, the NWMO studied approaches for long-term management of Canada's spent nuclear fuel.

NWMO began by analysing management options that have been considered internationally. Following this review and screening, NWMO selected as the basis for its initial assessment the three methods specified in the NFWA: deep geologic disposal in the Canadian Shield, storage at nuclear reactor sites and centralized, above- or below-ground storage. From the insights gained through the NWMO analysis and public consultation, the NWMO proposed a fourth option, Adaptive Phase Management (APM). NWMO believes APM would best meet the objectives and expectations of Canadians.

The management options were subject to multiple assessment processes. The NWMO developed an assessment framework for evaluating the options according to citizen values, ethical principles and eight objectives:

  • fairness,
  • public health and safety,
  • worker health and safety,
  • community wellbeing,
  • security,
  • environmental integrity,
  • economic viability, and
  • adaptability.

The analysis included ethical and social considerations. A preliminary assessment of the three options in the NFWA examined the strengths and limitations of each approach, through an application of multi-attribute utility analysis. Extensive comparative analysis of the costs, benefits and risks of the three options in the NFWA and the NWMO's fourth option provided quantitative and qualitative assessments. The assessment processes were supported by multi-disciplinary research contributions, workshops, and submissions from Canadians, guidance on values and ethical principles from citizens, Aboriginal traditional knowledge and the NWMO's Roundtable on Ethics.

The NWMO developed its recommendation, APM, following the input of technical specialists, the public and Aboriginal People. NWMO engaged Canadians in a wide ranging dialogue on the values, principles and objectives they believe are required of a nuclear waste management approach for the approach to be socially acceptable, environmentally responsible, technically sound and economically feasible. In studying these options, the NWMO held 120 public consultations and numerous full-day dialogues on values, covering a cross-section of the population in every province and territory. Approximately 18,000 citizens contributed to the study. More than 60,000 people expressed their interest by visiting the NWMO Web site. The final study report, Choosing a Way Forward, which contains the detailed recommendation and NWMO's supporting assessment findings and research, is available at for download.

K.4.2     Adaptive Phased Management: NWMO proposal to government (2005)

In November 2005, the NWMO submitted its study and recommended the APM approach to the Minister of Natural Resources.

APM is composed of:

1. a technical method that:

  1. is based on centralized containment and isolation of the spent fuel in a deep geologic repository of suitable rock formations, such as the crystalline rock of the Canadian Shield or formations such as sedimentary rock,
  2. is flexible in the pace and manner of implementation, through a phased decision-making process that will be supported by a program of continuous learning, research and development,
  3. provides for an interim step in the implementation process, in the form of shallow underground storage of spent fuel at the central site, prior to final placement in a deep repository,
  4. monitors of the spent fuel to support data collection and confirmation of the safety and performance of the repository, and
  5. is able to retrieve the spent fuel over a long period, until such time as a future society makes a determination on the final closure and the appropriate form and duration of post-closure monitoring.


2. a management approach, whose key characteristics include:

  1. responsiveness to advances in technology, natural and social science research, Aboriginal traditional knowledge and societal values and expectations,
  2. sustained engagement of people and communities while making and implementing decisions,
  3. financial stability, through funding by the nuclear energy corporations (currently OPG, HQ and NB Power) and AECL, according to a financial formula required by the NFWA,
  4. site selection, focused on provinces that currently benefit from the nuclear fuel cycle: Saskatchewan, Ontario, Québec and New Brunswick, although communities in other regions will also be considered, and  
  5. selecting a site which preferably has a willing community to host the central facilities. The site must meet the scientific and technical criteria to ensure that multiple engineered and natural barriers will protect human beings, other life forms and the biosphere.

APM was designed to build upon the advantages of each of the other three approaches and in order to provide safety and fairness to this and future generations.

In proposing an APM, the NWMO tried to provide a risk-management approach that is comprised of deliberate stages and periodic decision points. The ADM:

  • commits this generation of Canadians to take the first steps to manage the spent fuel we have created,
  • includes a design and process that ensures that the ADM meets rigorous safety and security standards,
  • features a step-by-step decision-making process that will provide the flexibility to adapt to experience and societal change,
  • provides genuine choice by taking a financially conservative approach and by allowing capacity to be transferred from one generation to the next,
  • promotes continuous learning - improvements in operations and design can be made to enhance performance and reduce uncertainties,
  • provides a viable, safe and secure long-term storage capability, with the potential for retrieving waste, which can be exercised until future generations have confidence to close the facility, and
  • is rooted in values and ethics and engages citizens, allowing for societal judgments as to whether there is sufficient certainty to proceed with each step.

K.4.3     Government decision (June 2007)

Following a government-wide review, the Government of Canada announced on June 14, 2007, that it had selected the APM approach for the long-term management of spent fuel, as proposed by the NWMO.

When the Government of Canada accepted this management approach, NWMO assumed responsibility for implementing the APM method.

K.4.4     Implementing the long-term management plan (2007 - 2008 activities)

In 2007 to 2008, NWMO grew into a broader implementing agency and began its initial implementation activities in seven key areas of its initial five-year plan. These activities included:

  • developing relationships with interested organizations, individuals and Aboriginal peoples, and seeking their views on how APM should be implemented,
  • advancing the social research program and incorporating the ongoing Canadian technical research program (this program involves the specialist consulting community, 11 universities and four international partnerships),
  • completing a proposed funding formula to pay for the long-term management of spent fuel (in its 2007 Annual Report, the NWMO submitted this funding formula for approval by the Minister of Natural Resources. APM is estimated to cost $24.4 billion (2002). Consistent with the NFWA, nuclear-energy producers began contributing to trust funds in 2002 to ensure money will be available for implementing the long-term nuclear waste management program. NWMO will be proposing continued schedules of trust fund deposits),
  • continuing to assess how changing circumstances might affect NWMO's plans, including the prospects for new nuclear power plants, additional fuel volumes and different fuel types,
  • enhancing the governance structure in several ways, including development of revised by-laws and members agreement, new appointments to the Board of Directors and Advisory Council, establishment of an independent technical review group, and the formalization partnerships with the Aboriginal Working Group Niigani and the Canadian Association of Nuclear Host Communities, who will provide advice and guidance,
  • strengthening NWMO's organizational capacity by incorporating additional technical and social research, public engagement, legal and human resources expertise which includes establishing an intern program, and
  • advancing research into processes for selecting a repository site; convening initial dialogues with interested organizations and individuals concerning the design of a process for selecting a site. Site selection will not begin until the selection process is discussed and confirmed. It is likely that a number of years will elapse before a suitable site within an informed and willing host community is found.

K.5     Long-term management of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste

All Canadian low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste is currently in safe storage. Canada's two major low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste owners, OPG and AECL (which are responsible for about 98 percent of the waste), have initiatives underway to develop and implement long-term solutions. Furthermore, the federal government's PHAI involves the cleanup and long-term management of historic LLW in Port Hope, Ontario.

Ongoing initiatives to address the long-term management of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste in Canada are described in the following sections.

K.5.1     Proposed low- and intermediate-level waste deep geologic repository at OPG's Western Management Facility

OPG has recognized that, while its current approach to radioactive waste storage is safe, secure, and environmentally responsible, a new approach will be required for the long-term. A long-term management approach will ensure that waste can be kept safely isolated from the environment and without burdening future generations.

The Municipality of Kincardine currently hosts OPG's Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF), which is the centralized storage site for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste (L&ILW) arising from the operation of the 20 OPG-owned reactors in Ontario. OPG has safely managed L&ILW for the Pickering, Darlington and Bruce reactors at the Bruce site for over 30 years. Currently, an estimated 77,000 cubic metres of L&ILW is in interim storage. Throughout the life of the facility, emissions have been less than one percent of the regulatory limit.

Artist's Concept of the Deep Geologic Repository

Figure K.1 - Artist's Concept of the Deep Geologic Repository

Following a request by the Municipality of Kincardine to explore jointly with OPG the options for a long-term management of L&ILW within the municipality, the concept for the Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) at the Bruce nuclear site was developed.

Under the terms of a memorandum of understanding, OPG and Kincardine engaged a consulting firm to conduct an Independent Assessment Study (IAS) of the feasibility, safety, social and economic feasibility and the potential environmental effects of a proposed long-term management facility at the WWMF.

Three options were studied: enhanced processing and storage, covered above-ground concrete vault and deep geologic repository. A geotechnical feasibility study, a preliminary safety assessment, a social and economic assessment, a community attitude survey, interviews with local residents, businesses and tourists and an environmental review led to the creation of the IAS. Another component of the Independent Assessment Study was a public consultation program, conducted in Kincardine and surrounding municipalities.

The IAS concluded that each of the options was feasible. The options could be constructed to meet international and Canadian safety standards with a high margin of safety, would not have significant residual environmental effects and would not have a negative effect on tourism. The geology of the Bruce site was considered ideal for the DGR option. The study report can be accessed at

In April 2004, the Kincardine Council passed a resolution to “endorse the opinion of the Nuclear Waste Steering Committee and select the Deep Rock Vault option as the preferred course of study in regards to the management of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste.” The DRV has the highest margin of safety and is consistent with best international practice. 

Michigan Basin Geology

Figure K.2 - Michigan Basin Geology

Following the Council resolution, Kincardine and OPG began to negotiate terms for a hosting agreement. Hosting agreements have been implemented in a number of jurisdictions in Canada and internationally by communities that support the location of a long-term waste management facility. The model for this agreement was the Port Hope agreement, which was negotiated between the federal government and the local Municipalities in the Port Hope area. It provided for the clean-up and long-term management of approximately two million cubic metres of historic radioactive and specified industrial wastes currently existing in the communities.

The Kincardine Hosting Agreement was signed on October 13, 2004. It set out the terms and conditions under which the project would proceed.

From mid-October 2004 to mid-January 2005, OPG assisted Kincardine to undertake a public dialogue on the DGR proposal. In particular, an independent consultant completed a community consultation to determine the level of community support. Each residence in Kincardine was telephoned during the first three weeks of January 2005. The telephone calls were followed-up with a mail-out as required. The results of the poll were announced at the Kincardine Council Meeting on February 16, 2005 and are as follows:

  • 60 percent in favour,
  • 22 percent against,
  • 13 percent neutral, and
  • 5 percent don't know/refused to answer.

Seventy-two percent of eligible residents participated in the telephone poll.

In December 2005, OPG submitted a letter of intent to construct the DGR to the CNSC, thus initiating the environmental assessment (EA) process. The EA process is now underway and coincides with further geo-scientific investigations, conceptual design work and safety analyses.

Two deep boreholes were drilled at the site in 2007 and further boreholes are planned for 2008 and 2009. These boreholes have confirmed the expected stratigraphy at the site. More than 200 metres of low-permeability shale form a protective cap over the low-permeability limestone formation where the repository will be constructed. Hydraulic conductivity measurements, in both the limestone and shale formations, have shown values of 10-11 m/s and below. These values indicate that any solute movement away from the repository will be diffusion controlled.

The DGR concept is composed of horizontally excavated emplacement rooms which will be arranged in two panels with access provided via two vertical, concrete-lined shafts. The proposed depth of the repository is 680 metres below ground.

The environmental impact assessment is scheduled to be submitted in 2011. EA approval and a Site preparation and construction licence are expected to be received in 2012. Earliest in-service is expected in 2018.

K.5.2     Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program (NLLP)

The nuclear legacy liabilities have resulted from 60 years of nuclear research and development carried out on behalf of Canada by the National Research Council (1944 to 1952) and AECL (1952 to present). These liabilities are largely located at AECL research sites and consist of shutdown research buildings (including several prototype and research reactors), a wide variety of buried and stored wastes, and contaminated lands. The shutdown buildings and contaminated lands need to be safely decommissioned, to meet federal regulatory requirements, and long-term solutions need to be developed and implemented for the wastes. More than half of the liabilities are the result of Cold War activities during the 1940s, 50s and early-60s. The remaining liabilities stem from R&D for medical isotopes, nuclear-reactor technology and national science programs.

About 70 percent of the liabilities are located at AECL's CRL in Ontario and a further 20 percent are located at AECL's shutdown Whiteshell Laboratories, in Manitoba. The remaining 10 percent relate largely to three shutdown prototype reactors in Ontario and Québec, which were key to the developmental stage of Canada's CANDU reactor technology. The inventory of legacy waste includes spent fuel, high-, intermediate- and low-level solid and liquid radioactive waste, and wastes from site cleanup work across Canada.

In 2006, the Government of Canada adopted a new long-term strategy to deal with the nuclear legacy liabilities. The overall objective of the strategy is to safely and cost-effectively reduce the liabilities and associated risks. In the best interests of Canadians, the strategy is based on sound waste management and environmental principles. The estimated cost to implement the strategy over 70 years is about $7 billion.

The development of the strategy took into account two fundamental assumptions:

  • CRL will continue to operate for the foreseeable future, and
  • A full suite of waste management facilities will be required.

The implementation of the strategy at CRL will need to be coordinated with ongoing site operations. It will need to deal with operational facilities and other infrastructure over time, as they are shutdown and taken out of service. Waste characterization, processing, conditioning, treatment, packaging, storage as well as long-term waste management facilities will need to be designed and constructed before they are able to deal effectively with much of the waste. These facilities will be designed and sized to provide for the management of waste generated by AECL's ongoing research and development activities.

The Government of Canada has committed $520 million to fund the five-year start-up phase of the NLLP. The five-year plan, which was initiated in 2006, focuses on:

  • addressing immediate health, safety, and environmental priorities,
  • accelerating the decommissioning of shutdown buildings, and,
  • laying the groundwork for subsequent phases of the strategy.

These three elements continue necessary care and maintenance activities to maintain the liabilities in a safe state until future phases of the program can address the sites. Further developments and refinements of the strategy will involve public consultations.

A Memorandum of Understanding between NRCan and AECL sets the direction for implementing the five-year plan. NRCan is responsible for policy direction and oversight, including control of funding. AECL is responsible for carrying out the work. A Joint NRCan-AECL Oversight Committee, chaired by NRCan, makes decisions on the planning, delivery, reporting and administration of the five-year plan. To represent the interests of the Government, NRCan:

  • provides policy direction and oversight,
  • ensures value for money, transparency and accountability, and
  • provides for public consultations to inform the further development of the long-term strategy.


  • implements the work,
  • ensures regulatory compliance, safety and effectiveness,
  • identifies priorities and develops annual plans,
  • reports on approved activities, and
  • holds and administers licences, facilities, land, materials and other asset responsibilities related to the nuclear-legacy liabilities.

K.5.2.1     Long-term strategy to decommission Chalk River Laboratories

AECL submitted to the CNSC a long-term strategy (70 years) for the decommissioning and site restoration of its CRL, which includes the construction of the infrastructure required to characterize, treat, store and manage over the long-term of all of AECL's low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste. The CNSC accepted this strategy and implementation began in 2006.

Over the past two decades, AECL undertook a modest program of removing redundant, unoccupied buildings, as the funding allowed. At the time of initiating the NLLP, twenty buildings were in various stages of decommissioning. Work is in progress to transfer an additional 27 buildings from active use to decommissioning. The transition will take place over the five-year start-up phase of the NLLP program, when AECL implements its site renewal program to move staff and equipment to newer facilities.

Within the past two years, two major buildings were demolished: the former plant hospital and a 12,000 m2 radioisotope laboratory building that had been in use since the late 1940s. Demolition can produce a large amount of construction materials as waste. Building and equipment surveys, as well as the treatment of some materials to remove the contamination, resulted in the designation of significant quantities of waste as being likely clean and cleared for recycling, reuse or disposal in local landfills. These activities helped to minimize the quantity of waste requiring long-term management within the radioactive waste management areas onsite.

A key accomplishment of the program has been the construction and commissioning of the Waste Analysis Facility (WAF). The WAF is playing a major role in the effective disposal of building decommissioning and remediation materials. The WAF is a large warehouse-like structure, designed to receive the wide variety of decommissioning wastes designated in the field to be likely clean and to provide final confirmation that the waste meets free-release criteria and is safe to leave AECL property.

Another component of the program is to reduce risks associated with environmental contamination of CRL lands. Recent field activities and analyses have allowed completion of the following:

  • Disposal of legacy liquid isotope production wastes: This activity involved the disposal of ~ 2,000 separate containers of mixed liquid wastes (oils and solvents with radioactive contamination) that were being stored on the surface of one of the waste management sites. Approximately 70,000 litres were analyzed, re-bulked and shipped offsite for incineration in the United States.
  • Remediation of the Glass Block Test Sites: Fifty-two glass blocks were recovered from two experimental sites and transferred to secured storage in CRL's Waste Management Areas. These blocks were part of an experiment that dated back to 1958 to study fission product leeching rates into the water table from vitrified fuel reprocessing waste.
  • Removal of the Field Scale Lysimeter Test Facility: This was an underground installation used to research radioactive contamination migration through different buffer materials that had been applied to buried waste packages. The lysimeter waste packages were removed, analyzed and shipped offsite for disposal.
  • Recovery of NRX fuel rods from Waste Management Area A: Thirty-three irradiated NRX fuel rods and pieces, buried in wooden crates following the NRX accident in 1952, were recovered. The fuel was repackaged in fuel cans and moved to modern tile holes for storage.
  • Remediation of the Solvent Bunkers: These 40-year-old concrete bunkers, located in one of CRL's waste management areas, housed 30 drums containing mixed contaminated waste solutions generated from tank rinses. To date, 24 drums have been fully assessed and disposed off-site.

The groundwater monitoring program conducted on the CRL site has also been enhanced over the past two years. There has been an increase from 100 to 160 boreholes. The program now samples for non-radiological, as well as radiological, contaminants. The enhanced program, in conjunction with other existing environmental monitoring programs onsite, will result in improved identification of contaminant plumes and aid in the development of more effective remediation strategies. The monitoring of environmental performance will also ensure that the detailed strategy for remediating the affected areas of the CRL is carried out by addressing the riskiest areas first. Any changes in performance are reflected in periodically updated priorities within the long-term strategy.

The shoreline and riverbed sediments downstream of the CRL site are being sampled and analyzed as part of an expanded monitoring program. This information is being used to develop strategies to minimize any potential ecological impact on the Ottawa River that might result from earlier operations on the site.

Finally, several studies are being initiated to better define the waste processing, treatment and long-term management facilities necessary to deal with the wide variety of legacy waste types that exist at all AECL sites. These studies will help define the shielded facility requirements for waste handling, the volume reduction and waste immobilization techniques, the extent to which buried wastes can be managed in place over the long-term and the options for the long-term management of the wastes that need to be recovered and treated. Of note is the initiation of a feasibility study. The study will evaluate the potential suitability of the CRL site geology for a deep repository to serve the long-term management of AECL's inventory of low- and intermediate-level solid radioactive waste. To support this study, existing geologic information has been compiled, a monitoring network for micro-seismic activity has been installed and the first of five planned boreholes have been drilled. These activities have been undertaken to obtain new data on fractures and groundwater salinity using depth (to 900 metres) and other geochemical data in order to assess the local geology.

K.5.2.2     AECL Liquid Waste Transfer and Storage (LWTS) Project

The Liquid Waste Transfer Storage Project at CRL, which is part of the Stored Liquid Waste Remediation Project, is being implemented under the NLLP. The LWTS project will provide long-term storage in new tanks for about 280 cubic metres of intermediate- and high-level liquid waste. The waste is currently stored in 21 monitored storage tanks at CRL, including the Fissile Solution Storage Tank (FISST). The LWTS will not include any solidification of the liquid, but AECL's long-term strategy is to convert the liquid into a solid form suitable for long-term management in a storage or disposal facility.

Over a 50-year period, the liquid waste has accumulated from various sources: AECL's medical radioisotope program, fuel processing program, decontamination of test loops in CRL's research reactors, and regeneration of ion exchange resins used to purify water in fuel storage bays at CRL's research reactors. Except for waste streams from the radioisotope program, the generation of such wastes has stopped.

The LWTS objectives are as follows:

  1. to consolidate the waste from existing tanks into a storage system that meets current standards for design and construction, with improved systems for waste monitoring, sampling and retrieval, and
  2. to condition the contents of FISST to reduce the criticality risk and related monitoring requirements during storage.

The project authorities are preparing the submission package to the CNSC for a licence to construct the waste storage system.

K.5.3     Management of historic waste

In 1982, the Government of Canada established the LLRWMO within AECL to be the federal agent for the cleanup and management of historic LLW in Canada. NRCan provides policy direction and funding to the LLRWMO to carry out its work. Over the course of its existence, the LLRWMO has completed historic waste cleanups across Canada and continues to monitor several sites with historic radium or uranium contamination.

K.5.3.1     Port Hope Area Initiative

The bulk of Canada's historic LLW is located in the southern Ontario communities of Port Hope and Clarington. These wastes and contaminated soils amount to roughly 2 million cubic metres. They originate from the operations of a radium and uranium refinery in the Municipality of Port Hope, dating back to the 1930s. While recognizing that there are no urgent risks from a health or environmental standpoint, the Government of Canada determined that intervention measures are required in order to implement more appropriate long-term management measures for these materials.

In March 2001, the Government of Canada and the local municipalities entered into an agreement on community-developed proposals to address the cleanup and long-term management of these wastes, thereby launching the PHAI. The $260 million initiative, which began in 2001, includes an EA and regulatory review phase, an implementation phase and a long-term monitoring phase, as well as a property value protection program. The LLRWMO is the proponent for the PHAI on behalf of the Government of Canada.

The PHAI will result in the long-term management of these historic wastes in two aboveground mounds that will be constructed in the local communities. The initiative includes two projects - the Port Hope Project and the Port Granby Project. Both PHAI projects are currently in phase one (environmental assessment and regulatory review), which is expected to be completed in 2010.

The Port Hope Project entails the cleanup of the urban area and 14 major sites and the consolidation of all of the wastes (approximately 2 million cubic metres) in the Municipality of Port Hope at one long-term waste management facility (WMF). This facility is to be located at the present site of the existing Welcome WMF. The Government of Canada, through its responsible authorities - NRCan, the CNSC and Fisheries and Oceans Canada - has accepted the LLRWMO produced EA Study Report and has issued a screening report that concludes the project is not likely to result in significant adverse environmental effects. The LLRWMO is currently completing the requirements to obtain a CNSC licence for the Port Hope Project. The programs - delivering Interim Waste Management, Property Value Protection and community consultation - are ongoing.

The Port Granby Project involves the relocation of the existing Port Granby wastes (approximately 0.5 million cubic metres) to a new aboveground, long-term WMF. The WMF is to be located at a nearby site, north of the current site and away from the Lake Ontario shoreline. An EA Study Report was submitted to the Responsible Authorities (RA) in July 2007. Since then, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has withdrawn as an RA because it has determined that the project as described (relocate waste to new site) is not likely to cause a harmful alteration, disruption or destruction (HADD) of fish habitat. The original community proposed concept - to manage the waste at its current shoreline site - was likely to result in harm to the fish habitat. The LLRWMO is now working to complete an addendum to the Port Granby EA Study Report in advance of the EA screening process and decision (NRCan and the CNSC). The CNSC licensing process for the long-term waste management facility would follow.

Ongoing stakeholder consultation remains a priority, as municipal support is required for successful completion of the planning phase. In March 2007, the RAs completed the environmental screening of the Port Hope Project. The Municipality of Port Hope gave its consent to continue to the review stage. The Municipality of Clarington will also be asked to consent to the Port Granby project environmental assessment screening report before licensing may proceed for the Port Granby facility. Cleanup, waste facility construction and waste emplacement will take place in the following years, after which the facilities will continue to be monitored and maintained for the long-term.

Visualization of Proposed Waste Management Facility Port Hope Project

Figure K.3 - Visualization of Proposed Waste Management Facility Port Hope Project

K.5.3.2     Other historic waste initiatives

Most of the remaining historic waste to be dealt with in Canada is located along the Northern Transportation Route between Port Radium, Northwest Territories and Fort McMurray, Alberta. The waste has resulted from the past transport of radium and uranium bearing ore and concentrates from the Port Radium Mine to the barge-to-rail transfer point at Fort McMurray.

In 2003, the Government of Canada completed a cleanup of contaminated sites in Fort McMurray, and the resulting contaminated soils are safely managed in a long-term, above-ground engineered containment mound, adjacent to the local municipal landfill.

Recovered materials from previous remediations are being managed under institutional control at Fort Smith, Fort Fitzgerald and Tulita. They are monitored and maintained by the LLRWMO on behalf of the Government of Canada. Some materials have also been packaged and transferred to long-term management facilities. Since the last reporting period, the LLRWMO has repackaged approximately 867 cubic metres of contaminated soil from the Tulita mound into bags. The bagged materials are being managed at the site of the old cell under a CNSC licence. The LLRWMO is currently pursuing a plan that would see these wastes transported to a disposal facility by October 2008.

The sites that still have to be remediated - including Sawmill Bay, Bennett Landing, Bell Rock and Fort Fitzgerald - are regularly inspected and monitored by the CNSC and the LLRWMO. All these sites are exempted from the CNSC licensing and have been placed under institutional control. Strategies are currently being developed for the cleanup of these remaining sites. They are estimated to consist of about 10,000 cubic metres of contaminated soils.

K.6     Other contaminated lands

The Canadian regulatory body established the Contaminated Lands Evaluation and Assessment Network (CLEAN) program to deal with sites previously not licensed under the AECA, but which now require regulatory control under the NSCA. Under the CLEAN program, these new sites, previously exempted from regulatory control, are being brought under the CNSC licences.

The CLEAN program consists of five primary categories of sites that include:

  1. inactive uranium mine and mill tailings management areas,
  2. contaminated land sites, which have resulted from past practices in the radium and uranium industries,
  3. landfills permitted by the Crown, and
  4. devices containing radium-luminescent compounds.

K.6.1     Inactive uranium mine and mill tailings management areas

At the time the NSCA came into force, there were 19 tailings management sites resulting from the former operation of uranium mines in Canada that needed to be brought under regulatory control: 14 in Ontario, three in Saskatchewan, and two in the Northwest Territories. Of these, 17 are now licensed and licence applications (or letters of intent) have been received for the two other sites (Gunnar and Lorado).

K.6.2     Contaminated land resulting from past practices in the uranium and radium industries under institutional control


K.6.2.1     Consolidated cells

Since the last reporting period, one of the consolidated cells was issued a CNSC licence. The Lakeshore Road Storage Mound was licensed by the CNSC on January 1, 2006. A CNSC licence is held by the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority (trCA).

In addition, the historic waste from the cell in Tulita has been repackaged and the repackaged materials are currently being managed at the site of the old cell, under a CNSC licence. The LLRWMO is currently planning to transport these wastes to a disposal facility by October 2008.

The other three sites where historic wastes have been consolidated and placed under institutional control are located in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Fort Smith, Northwest Territories and the Passmore Mound site in Toronto, Ontario. These mounds are monitored and maintained by the Government of Canada, which has accepted responsibility for the long-term management of historic waste when there is not another responsible owner. There is no time limit established for institutional controls of consolidated historic waste sites in Canada. The reliance on institutional controls in the management of these historic wastes is determined on a case-by-case basis. For some historic waste sites, institutional controls are expected to remain in place over the long-term. For other sites they are considered to be temporary measures pending the implementation of appropriate long-term waste management solutions.

K.6.2.2     Port Hope contaminated sites

Canada's historic LLW, located in the southern Ontario communities of Port Hope and Clarington, is discussed in section K.

K.6.2.3     Northern transportation route

The status of the historic LLW along the Northern Transportation Route is discussed under section K.5.3.2.

K.6.2.4     Toronto area contaminated sites

Seven historic radium contaminated sites in the Toronto area are exempted from the CNSC licensing. These sites have been placed under institutional controls to help ensure public and environmental safety. This includes private properties with radium-contaminated soil, building materials and approximately 10,000 cubic metres of mildly contaminated soil. The soil is held in an interim storage mound at Passmore Avenue, in Scarborough. Ontario Realty Corporation (ORC) has characterized the former scrap yard and metal yard. The Passmore mound and other properties in the Greater Toronto Area are monitored, inspected and remediated by the LLRWMO.

K.6.2.5     Deloro Mine Site

A contaminated land site in Eastern Ontario, the Deloro Mine Site is undergoing an Environmental Assessment (EA) process and will be remediated under a CNSC licence. The proponent, the Ontario Ministry of Environment (OMOE), is leading the development of an EA Study Report, as required by the environmental study guidelines approved by the Commission Tribunal on September 26, 2003. From the project schedule provided by the OMOE, it is anticipated the EA Screening Report will be presented at a Commission Tribunal hearing in February 2009.

K.6.3     Landfills

Beginning January 1, 2005, an indefinite exemption from the CNSC licensing for the possession, management and storage of nuclear substances was granted by the CNSC for federally and provincially permitted landfill sites to receive nuclear substances have been or will be legally released from the CNSC-licensed facilities. The exemption was issued because these materials are present in extremely small concentrations and have been found to pose virtually no hazard to either the public or the environment. In addition, the CNSC concluded that there are sufficient municipal and provincial regulatory measures in place to identify and address any potential risk at these sites.

K.6.4     Devices containing radium luminous compounds

Canada has implemented a comprehensive risk-informed strategy for the regulatory control of radium luminescent devices that is supported by a public information program. The regulatory body continues to provide outreach material and information to stakeholders and members of the public regarding the regulatory regime. Advice includes the mitigation of radiological risks associated with the possession of such devices.

K.6.5     Other CLEAN program activities

Apart from licensing and compliance activities, the CLEAN program has also resulted in three workshops on regulating idle uranium mines, 10 presentations at national and international forums and two working groups. The working groups meet regularly to discuss the regulation of contaminated lands (Canadian Radioactive Waste group (CanRadWaste)) and historic/inactive uranium mines (Canadian Uranium Regulatory Examination - CURE - Team).

The CanRadWaste group consists of members from the regulatory body, the LLRWMO and NRCan. The CURE team is composed of representative members from the following organizations:

  • Saskatchewan government (Saskatchewan Environment and Saskatchewan Northern Affairs),
  • Associated communities (Municipal Council of Elliot Lake (Ontario),
  • Ontario government (Ministry of Northern Development and Mines),
  • Industry (Cameco Corporation),
  • Federal government (the CNSC), and
  • Observers from other interest groups, which also sit in on meetings.

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