Nuclear research sites: Minister Lunn announces $520-million cleanup

This press release is also available in French.

CHALK RIVER, ONT. -- The new Government of Canada today announced a five-year, $520-million commitment to begin cleanup of "nuclear legacy liabilities" resulting from research and development activities that date back to the beginning of nuclear technologies and medicine in Canada.

Speaking from Chalk River Laboratories near Deep River, Ontario, the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, announced a strategy to address health, safety and environmental priorities at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) sites. The further development of the long-term strategy will be informed by public consultations.

The announcement highlights the Government's commitment to responsible development and ensuring a clean and healthy environment for the future. The overall strategy contains a concrete action plan to clean up contaminated lands and nuclear waste, and to decommission outdated infrastructure.

"Communities like those in the Ottawa Valley have waited too long for a government to live up to its responsibilities," said Minister Lunn. "Today's announcement is an investment in our future. Canadians can have faith that our plan to deliver clean air, land, water and energy can address the challenges of the future, knowing the new Government is prepared to deal with nuclear waste issues ignored by previous governments."

More than half of the liabilities are the result of Cold War activities undertaken in the 1940s, 1950s and the early 1960s. The remaining liabilities stem from the research and development of medical isotopes and nuclear reactor technology, as well as national science programs.

These wastes are the legal responsibility of the Government of Canada and are distinct from those of the nuclear industry and provincial utilities. The latter deal with the commercial radioactive waste generated by nuclear power plants in Canada.

Minister Lunn was joined in his announcement by Cheryl Gallant, Member of Parliament for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke.

"The decision by our new Conservative government to clean up the nuclear site at Chalk River Laboratories is good news for the upper Ottawa Valley. This substantial financial contribution to the environment ensures the viability of AECL now and in the future, as well as the sustainability of nuclear energy as part of the energy mix that fuels our economy," said Ms. Gallant.

Starting immediately, Natural Resources Canada will oversee AECL's implementation of the five-year plan. The residents of Deep River and the region, stakeholders and members of the public are invited to join the new national government in supporting this cost-effective, long-term strategy to manage nuclear liabilities.

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FOR BROADCAST USE:

The Government of Canada today committed $520 million over five years to a strategy for cleaning up nuclear research and development sites dating back to the 1940s. Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn and Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Cheryl Gallant announced the strategy at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's Chalk River Laboratories.

For more information, media may contact:

Ghyslain Charron
Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada
Ottawa
(613) 992-4447

Emma Welford
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Natural Resources Canada
Ottawa
(613) 996-2007

NRCan's news releases and backgrounders are available at www.nrcan.gc.ca/media.

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