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Decommissioning of AECL Whiteshell Laboratories

[+] Author Affiliations
Grant W. Koroll, Dennis M. Bilinsky, Randall S. Swartz, Jeff W. Harding, Michael J. Rhodes, Randall W. Ridgway

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., Pinawa, MB, Canada

Paper No. ICEM2009-16311, pp. 57-62; 6 pages
  • ASME 2009 12th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management
  • ASME 2009 12th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, Volume 2
  • Liverpool, UK, October 11–15, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4408-3 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3865-X
  • Copyright © 2009 by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited


Whiteshell Laboratories (WL) is a Nuclear Research and Test Establishment near Winnipeg, Canada, operated by AECL since the early 1960s and now under decommissioning. WL occupies approximately 4400 hectares of land and employed more than 1000 staff up to the late-1990s, when the closure decision was made. Nuclear facilities at WL included a research reactor, hot cell facilities and radiochemical laboratories. Programs carried out at the WL site included high level nuclear fuel waste management research, reactor safety research, nuclear materials research, accelerator technology, biophysics, and industrial radiation applications. In preparation for decommissioning, a comprehensive environmental assessment was successfully completed [1] and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission issued a six-year decommissioning licence for WL starting in 2003 — the first decommissioning licence issued for a Nuclear Research and Test Establishment in Canada. This paper describes the progress in this first six-year licence period. A significant development in 2006 was the establishment of the Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program (NLLP), by the Government of Canada, to safely and cost effectively reduce, and eventually eliminate the nuclear legacy liabilities and associated risks, using sound waste management and environmental principles. The NLLP endorsed an accelerated approach to WL Decommissioning, which meant advancing the full decommissioning of buildings and facilities that had originally been planned to be decontaminated and prepared for storage-with-surveillance. As well the NLLP endorsed the construction of enabling facilities — facilities that employ modern waste handling and storage technology on a scale needed for full decommissioning of the large radiochemical laboratories and other nuclear facilities. The decommissioning work and the design and construction of enabling facilities are fully underway. Several redundant non-nuclear buildings have been removed and redundant nuclear facilities are being decontaminated and prepared for demolition. Along with decommissioning of redundant structures, site utilities are being decommissioned and reconfigured to reduce site operating costs. New waste handling and waste clearance facilities have been commissioned and a large shielded modular above ground storage (SMAGS) structure is in final design in preparation for construction in 2010. The eventual goal is full decommissioning of all facilities and infrastructure and removal of stored wastes from the site.

Copyright © 2009 by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited



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