Low-level waste recycling facility opens in Ontario

25 October 2023

Laurentis Energy Partners - a subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation (OPG) - has opened a new facility in Kincardine, Ontario, for the sorting and recycling of low-level radioactive waste. It says the facility will minimise waste associated with nuclear energy generation.

Representatives from OPG, LEP, EnergySolutions Canada and the Mayor of the Municipality of Kincardine, Kenneth Craig, recently cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the facility (Image: OPG)

The Western Clean Energy Sorting & Recycling Facility (WCSR) will sort materials such as used worker garments, small tools, mops and rags from OPG's nuclear power plants.

OPG's nuclear by-products and radioactive materials are managed at three Nuclear Sustainability Services (NSS) sites. The NSS Western Waste Management Facility (NSS-WWMF) in Bruce County receives and manages low and intermediate-level materials from the Darlington, Pickering, and Bruce Power nuclear power plants. In addition, OPG's NSS-WWMF provides Bruce Power with nuclear waste management services to support the operations of their facilities in Bruce County.

The new 42,000 square-foot (3902 square-metre) WCSR facility is located 3 kilometres to the east of OPG's NSS-WWMF plant and employs about 25 people. Construction on the WCSR began in 2022 as a collaboration between OPG, Laurentis and Dancor Construction Ltd. In agreement with Laurentis, EnergySolutions Canada provided licensing support for the new facility.

"Unlike other forms of energy, nuclear power is the only industry that accounts for all of its by-products, which are small in volume, safely stored, closely tracked, rigorously regulated, and well managed," OPG said. It added: "Despite common misperceptions, it is low-level radioactive materials that make up about 90% of the total volume of nuclear materials.

"Through NSS, OPG continues to safely manage used fuel from its nuclear operations, find innovative ways to reduce and shrink low and intermediate-level materials, and leverage important isotopes for the well-being of society."

The company said volume reduction ultimately lessens the need for new storage buildings, cuts the cost of decommissioning plants, and reduces the amount of space needed for interim storage and eventual permanent disposal facilities.

"This new facility will help OPG and the nuclear industry support the three Rs - reduce, reuse, recycle - and reduce our environmental footprint," said Mark Welt, Director of Western Operations for OPG's NSS. "By carefully sorting and segregating what is clean, what is recyclable, and what can be processed to reduce the volume, we can minimise the amount of nuclear materials in storage. This will help build a sustainable future in line with OPG's Climate Change Plan."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News