AECL raises liabilities estimate

22 March 2013

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) has advised the Canadian government that its estimated liabilities for nuclear decommissioning and waste management have increased by two-thirds to C$6 billion ($5.9 billion).

Chalk River Laboratory (AECL)
Chalk River Laboratories (Image: AECL)

In mid-2012, AECL began a comprehensive review of its nuclear liabilities through the Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program (NLLP). The review is intended to reflect best practices in nuclear decommissioning and waste management of Canada's nuclear legacy, mainly comprising AECL's Chalk River Laboratories. The last such review was completed in 2005.

AECL has now advised the government that its estimate of the liability has increased by C$2.4 billion ($2.3 billion) from the previous estimate of C$3.6 billion ($3.5 billion). The company said that the adjustment will be reflected in the government's financial results for 2012-13. However, it noted that confirmation of the amount of the adjustment "will be subject to verification by AECL management, review and approval by its board and audit by its external auditors, the Office of the Auditor General and KPMG."

The main reason for the increased liabilities estimate, AECL said, "is an increase in the indirect costs attributed to the decommissioning and waste management over the period of up to 70 years of the program." These costs include site operational and corporate support costs at AECL's Chalk River Laboratories.

AECL said that, since the last review was conducted, "the mandates and related activities at Chalk River Laboratories have evolved significantly in response to many factors, notably: a shift in demand for services, the introduction of targeted programs and capital investments to address health, safety, security and environment priorities and to respond to enhanced regulatory requirements."

The NLLP is a program to manage Canada's nuclear legacy liabilities at AECL sites that is funded through Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). It is based on a 70-year timeline, which started in 2006. As time progresses, activities will increasingly focus on designing, building and operating facilities for the safe and cost-effective management of waste.

AECL's Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario - the oldest and largest site in the NLLP - accounts for some 70% of the liabilities included in the program. Its Whiteshell Laboratories and the nearby Underground Research Laboratory in Manitoba represent a further 20% of the liabilities. Three shutdown prototype reactors - the Nuclear Power Demonstration reactor, the Douglas Point reactor and the Gentilly-1 reactor - account for most of the remaining 10%.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News