Regulatory review status for the Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is proposing to build an engineered mound near the ground’s surface on the Chalk River Laboratories site. The Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF), built for the purpose of disposing of low-level radioactive waste, would contain multiple cells made of systems that cover the base and top of each cell*, collect leachate and detect leaks, and monitor the surrounding environment. The proposed project would also include:

  • a wastewater treatment plant
  • supporting infrastructure, such as:
    • security systems to monitor access and egress
    • a truck wheel wash, vehicle monitoring and weighing stations
    • work stations and change facilities, construction trailers, and marine containers or tents for storage of construction materials

*Final cover would be applied once a cell is full.

Before the Commission can make a licensing decision on this proposal, CNSC staff must complete an environmental assessment (EA) under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012). This involves publishing an assessment of the licence amendment and producing an EA report based on the information in CNL’s licensing submission, a final environmental impact statement (EIS) and other supporting documentation.

CNSC's environmental assessment process

CNSC staff must have reviewed enough evidence and be able to show that the proposed NSDF activities would not cause significant adverse environmental effects before the Commission can proceed with its decision. The CNSC will make this information available as Commission member documents before Part 1 of the 2-part public hearing.

Environmental assessment start date: May 5, 2016
Reference number: 80122

Application submitted

March 31, 2017 CNL submits and CNSC starts review of licence application


May 5, 2016 Notice of commencement of the EA
May 24, 2016 Public comments invited on project description
May 25, 2016 Notice of participant funding
October 19, 2016 Public comments invited on the revised project description
March 8, 2017 Record of decision on the scope of the EA
March 17, 2017 Public comments invited on draft EIS
April 26-27, 2017 CNSC open houses (Deep River and Sheenboro)
August 31, 2017 CNSC completes initial review of draft EIS
October 2-4, 2017 CNSC open houses (Deep River, Pembroke, and Sheenboro)
November 24, 2017 Update on status of project
March 8, 2019 Notice of second round of participant funding
December 20, 2019 CNL submits revised draft EIS and licence documentation
January 9, 2020 Update on the status of the environmental assessment process for the NSDF project
April 9, 2020 Review team completes technical review of revised draft EIS
December 4, 2020 CNL submits draft final EIS
January 26, 2021 Update on the status of the environmental assessment process for the NSDF project
May 28, 2021 CNL submits final EIS
July 2, 2021 CNSC completes review of final EIS
January 24, 2022 CNSC Commission Member Document (CMD) released in advance of hearing

Public hearing

February 22, 2022 Part 1 Public Commission hearing
Starting May 31, 2022 Part 2 Public Commission hearing

Commission decisions

July 5, 2022 News Release: Commission seeks additional information regarding Indigenous consultation, for Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ application to authorize construction of a near surface disposal facility

Licence issued

To be confirmed

Compliance activities

To be confirmed

In relation to the NSDF project, in May 2021, a request for a regional assessment of radioactive waste disposal in the Ottawa Valley under the Impact Assessment Act was made to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada conducted a detailed review of the request. In July 2021, the Minister decided that a regional assessment was not warranted

Reference number: 81624


For general CNSC updates, subscribe to the CNSC’s mailing list. For information directly related to this project, please contact:

Environmental Assessment Division
Telephone: 613-995-7948 or 1-800-668-5284
Fax: 613-995-5086
Mailing address: Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
P. O. Box 1046, Station B
Ottawa, ON K1P 5S9

Additional resources

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