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Public comments open on NPD reactor closure

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Kristan Schruder, engineering director of the Nuclear Power Demonstration Site closure project, centre, goes over the details of how Canadian Nuclear Laboratories will seal up the old reactor facility during this public information session in 2016. CNL is hosting a Public Information Session in Chalk River this Thursday, Dec. 7 and an Open House at the NPD site on Saturday, Dec. 9.

Kristan Schruder, engineering director of the Nuclear Power Demonstration Site closure project, centre, goes over the details of how Canadian Nuclear Laboratories will seal up the old reactor facility during this public information session in 2016. CNL is hosting a Public Information Session in Chalk River this Thursday, Dec. 7 and an Open House at the NPD site on Saturday, Dec. 9.

The public has until Feb. 13, 2018 to comment on Canadian Nuclear Laboratories' plans to decommission one of Canada's first reactors.

 

The plan and its impact on the environment are summarized in the company's draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which they submitted to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) as part of the approval process.

CNL is also hosting a Public Information Session in Chalk River this Thursday, Dec. 7 and an Open House at the NPD site on Saturday, Dec. 9

The public comment period is designed to encourage the public and Indigenous groups to share feedback on the draft EIS document for the NPD (Nuclear Power Demonstration) closure project with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The CNSC is the responsible authority that makes the decision on the EA and, ultimately, will decide whether or not the proposed NPD closure project will proceed.

Located near Rolphton, the NPD site is the final chapter in the history of Canada’s first practical nuclear power reactor, and the prototype for the CANDU® reactor design. When it went online in 1962, it served as an important training facility for future reactor engineers and operators, then working for Ontario Hydro.

Operations at NPD ended in 1987, after which the first stages of decommissioning were completed, including the removal of all nuclear fuel from the site and the draining of the systems. The fuel itself remains stored at Chalk River Labs.

This first phase lasted until 1993, a period during which the outer buildings like the training centre were demolished, leaving behind the main reactor building.

The second part of this has been a long term monitoring period, which is set to last until 2018. This allows radiation levels to drop within the structure, so as to help reduce the risks to staff who are working on the closure project.

Once the CNSC gives its approval, the main building will be collapsed into the below ground portions of the structure, which dip below ground nearly 80 feet, and the whole thing will be sealed up in a specially tailored grout – which is like a flowable concrete – made on site. Once filled up, the structure will be buried under a concrete cap which will be topped with liners, geotextiles and grass to divert the flow of groundwater away from it. The water itself will be held by other engineered structures so as to not flow off site.

The decommissioned site will be monitored to ensure it remains intact as part of long-term care and maintenance activities. It is hoped work can be completed by 2020.

One potential complication is the stack which is situated beside the building. It is home to one of the larger populations of chimney swifts in the region. A lot of current activities in the vicinity are timed to accommodate the birds so as not to disturb them. The stack will likely be left in place, to ensure a habitat for the swifts is maintained.

The CNSC will be accepting comments on the draft EIS from the public and Indigenous groups in both official languages from now until Jan. 29, 2017.

Following receipt of public comments, CNSC staff will consider all submissions received in making its determination on whether the EIS is satisfactory or whether further information is required. In that case, CNL will be requested to submit the necessary information until CNSC staff are satisfied.

In addition, CNSC staff will ensure responses are provided to all comments received from members of the public and Indigenous groups. Following receipt of a final EIS, CNSC staff will prepare an environmental assessment report for the commission, which will be available to the public and Indigenous groups 60 days prior to the commission’s EA public hearing. The time and place of that hearing will be determined at a later date.

CNL encourages members of the public and Indigenous groups to participate in the EA process by sharing their comments with the CNSC.

For more information on the project, check out the link at: http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/document-eng.cfm?document=121060

Submit written comments on the project to:

Lucia Abellan

Environmental Assessment Officer

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

P.O. Box 1046 Station B

280 Slater Street

Ottawa, ON K1P 5S9

Telephone: 613-995-7265 or 1-800-668-5284

Fax: 613-995-5086

Email:  cnsc.ea-ee.ccsn@canada.ca

SUhler@postmedia.com