Feds give $1.2 billion to revitalize Chalk River site

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Peter L. Smith


Peter L. Smith

CHALK RIVER – Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., on behalf of the Federal Liberal government, announced new funding for the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) facility to build a “world class science facility” along with other modernizing plans. The construction process will include three new multi-million dollar locations representing over $100 million in new infrastructure. Work has already begun on the site. 
The plan is part of making Vision 2026 a reality.  Ted Preisig, Vice-President of Capital projects at CNL, commented, “We believe that CNL will serve as a global hub for nuclear science, home to the brightest and best. We are revitalizing the infrastructure and facilities to turn that vision into reality.”  The full
investment for revitalization spans a 10-year period, and the first funding announcement was made in 2016.
The new construction will include a “logistics” complex, a “business hub” and a “support facility”. The logistics and warehouse building will be a security check point for people and materials entering the site, including new guardhouses; the business hub will have offices for over 400 people; and the support facility will expand shop space, creating more efficient operations across the campus. The current shop space is spread out among several older buildings.
A new Tritium Lab will be built costing more than $40 million. Four infrastructure projects are booked (over $90 million) to bring new domestic water and natural gas to the site plus a modern sanitary sewage treatment facility and a system to better manage storm water.
In 2015 Chalk River opened a new hydrogen laboratory complex (over $55 million).
A world class materials science lab, the Harriett Brooks Building, opened in October 2016 representing another $100 million investment.
Mark Lesinki, President and CEO of Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories commented, “While renewal of our Chalk River site is well underway, launching the construction process is a major milestone in the realization of our long term strategy. These projects will have a positive impact on our communities as we look to local businesses and contractors to assist in completing the work.’’
Steve Innes, Manager of Laboratory Renewal Projects stressed that CNL is working to extend the economic benefits of these capital projects into local communities.
 “With more than a billion dollars in this year’s federal budget projected for AECL and the multinational companies that run Chalk River Labs, someone needs to have a careful look at how all that money is being spent,” commented Ole Hendrickson, on behalf of the Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and area. 
The Old Fort William Cottagers Association (OFWCA) commented:  “The news that CNL will receive $260 million in interim funding from the federal government and more than $1 billion in federal support during 2018-2019 is shocking. These vast sums of money … are an extraordinary waste of taxpayers’ money if the government continues to support CNL’s current proposals.  CNL must design state-of-the-art facilities that should also include intermediate-level waste [storage], away from the Ottawa River. Taxpayers’ money should only be spent to build the best facilities possible not the quick and dirty ones proposed by CNL.” 
Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories employs about 3,300 people mainly at Chalk River.
For more information and opinions on activities at the Chalk River facilities see pages 5, 29 and 30.