North American Member News January 2023


1 February 2023


Eileen Supko

Whiteshell Reactor Environmental Impact Statement for Decommissioning

The WR-1 research reactor, which began operations in 1962 and closed in 1985, is in the process of decommissioning. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has proposed to decommission WR-1 using an in-situ technique, which will involve pouring a specially engineered grout into the reactor to lock contaminants in place. A protective cover at the surface will channel water away from the site and protect it from the elements.

Decommissioning of the Whiteshell Laboratories has been under way for more than a decade. In 2003, the site received approval of an overall decommissioning framework, through the completion of an environmental assessment and the subsequent issuing of a site decommissioning licence by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC.) CNL plans to complete the decommissioning of the Whiteshell site by 2027.


As part of the process to decommission the WR-1 research reactor, CNL developed a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed in-situ decommissioning of the Whiteshell Reactor 1 (WR-1), which is now in the final review process. The draft EIS was open to public comments in late 2017. A revised draft EIS was submitted for regulatory review in July 2022.

The draft EIS document will now undergo its second technical review by the Federal, Provincial, and Indigenous Review Team (FPIRT), which is expected to take a year to complete.  Following this review, a Final EIS will be submitted.

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