AECL operates two nuclear R&D laboratories in Canada, Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) near Ottawa, Ontario, and Whiteshell Laboratories (WL), near Winnipeg, Manitoba. Whiteshell Laboratories have been in operation since about 1965. R&D programs carried out at WL included the WR-1 research reactor, which operated from 1965 to 1985, reactor safety research, small reactor development, materials science, post irradiation examination, chemistry, biophysics and radiation applications. The Canadian Nuclear Fuel Waste Management Program was conducted and continues to operate at WL and also at the nearby Underground Research Laboratory. In the late-1990s, AECL began to consolidate research and development activities at CRL and initiated preparations for decommissioning WL. Preparations for decommissioning included a formal environmental assessment under Canadian environmental assessment legislation, a prerequisite to AECL’s application for a decommissioning licence. In 2002 December, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission issued a decommissioning licence for WL, valid until December 31, 2008. The licence authorizes the first planned phase of site decommissioning as well as the continuation of selected research programs. The six-year licence for Whiteshell Laboratories is the first overall decommissioning license issued for a Canadian Nuclear Research and Test Establishment and is the longest licence term ever granted for a nuclear installation of this complexity in Canada. The first phase of decommissioning is now underway and focuses on decontamination and modifications to nuclear facilities, such as the shielded facilities, the main R&D laboratories and the associated service systems, to achieve a safe state of storage-with-surveillance. Later phases have planned waste management improvements for selected wastes already in storage, eventually followed by final decommissioning of facilities and infrastructure and removal of most wastes from the site. This paper provides an overview of the planning, environmental assessment, licensing, and organizational processes for decommissioning and selected descriptions of decommissioning activities currently underway at AECL Whiteshell Laboratories.

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