The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on 12 July announced acceptance of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) Project from Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). This is a key step in the environmental assessment process for the project.
The 2021 Final Environmental Impact Statement for the NSDF Project is now available, along with the Federal-Provincial Review Team and Public and Indigenous Groups’ comment tables, on the Impact Assessment Agency (IAA) website as well as on the CNL website.
The next step in the environmental assessment process is CNSC’s preparation of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 Environmental Assessment Report on the NSDF Project. The report will be available for Indigenous and public review prior to the public Commission hearing. CNSC staff have deemed all environmental assessment and licensing application documents acceptable, and therefore have notified the CNSC Commission Secretariat, who will now proceed with scheduling public hearing dates.
CNL says the NSDF is key to improving the state of legacy waste that is already at the Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) site. Presently, some wastes are temporarily contained in waste storage systems that protect workers, the public and the environment, but continuing to build more and more temporary storage is neither sustainable nor financially responsible. Other wastes exist in soils affected by historic and ongoing operations or historic building materials that require decommissioning. NSDF has been specifically designed to isolate these waste materials from the environment. The highly conservative design life of the facility is in excess of 550 years, at which point the radioactivity will have decayed to levels found in the natural environment. CNL notes that an operational NSDF would make it possible to clean up the CRL campus through carefully decommissioning of ageing and redundant nuclear facilities, and conduct important environmental remediation by removing contaminated soils.