News Local

CNL seeks support for 2018 licence renewal

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Sean Chase/Daily Observer 
David Cox, vice-president of operations and chief nuclear officer for Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (right) addresses Deep River town council about renewing the licence for the Chalk River Laboratories.

Sean Chase/Daily Observer David Cox, vice-president of operations and chief nuclear officer for Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (right) addresses Deep River town council about renewing the licence for the Chalk River Laboratories.

 

DEEP RIVER – Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is seeking town council's endorsement for a 10-year operating licence at the Chalk River Laboratories.

Last Wednesday night, David Cox, vice-president of operations and chief nuclear officer, briefed councillors on plans for the site as it seeks support for a new 10-year operating licence which must be received by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) by March 2018.

The CRL licence is a nuclear research and test establishment operating licence which was last renewed in 2011. Since then, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited has transitioned to a Government-Owned Contractor-Operated (Go-Co) business model. The long-term vision for Chalk River is to continue being developed and transitioned as a sustainable world-class national nuclear laboratory delivering science and technology, structured to meet current and changing Canadian federal, commercial and public priorities, said Cox.

“CNL is planning over the 10-year licence period to continue evolving,” Cox added. “We are not decommissioning the site. We are a science and technology site and there is a significant evolution of infrastructure.”

CNL is undergoing major changes over the next few years as new facilities replace aging building and labs that date back to the 1940s and 1950s. The $120 million Harriet Brooks building was opened last year and CNL is preparing to commission a new tritium research facility. The groundwork is being prepared for the construction of a new administration building set for construction in 2019, while designs are also being drawn up for an advanced nuclear material research centre.

“This will be the cornerstone of the major investment in science and technology infrastructure at Chalk River for the balance of the 10-year period,” noted Cox.

CNL is moving along the environmental assessment process for the The Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) is a proposed engineered disposal facility for radioactive waste. The NSDF is planned to have an operating life of at least 50 years and as proposed, would be an engineered mound built at near-surface level on the Chalk River site. The proposed project would also include a wastewater treatment plant and supporting infrastructure.

Chalk River will continue to support the CANDU reactor product line, promoting advances in fuel technology, decarbonizing the transportation sector, cyber security, nuclear forensics and developing technology for targeted health and cancer therapy. The site is preparing for the shutdown of the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor slated for March 31, 2018. Councillor Terry Myers expressed his concern over the fate of the reactor's 500 technicians and operators.

“One of our major concerns is employment,” said Myers. “Obviously the shutdown of the NRU is worrisome to people.”

Cox responded that the NRU workforce will be gradually reduced down to 200 and then 50 as the NRU is slowly shutdown and decommissioned over the next few years. Some will be retiring, however, 98 per cent are estimated to receive new positions with CNL, Cox added.

Mayor Joan Lougheed explained to council that during a recent visit to Chalk River she saw a sense of excitement from the staff for the developments that will take place in the future.

“It's phenomenal the kind of things that are being done there,” she said.

Council must submit a letter of support to the CNSC's Secretariat by Dec. 11. CNL will be holding public hearings at the Best Western Pembroke Inn and Conference Centre beginning Jan. 24, 2018.

SChase@postmedia.com