Canadian Nuclear Laboratories aims to be carbon neutral by 2040 at Chalk River

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Chalk River Laboratories campus in Ontario
Chalk River Laboratories is one of the most complex laboratories in Canada, with activities ranging from services and development related to the nuclear industry, to other science areas such as physics, metallurgy, chemistry, biology, and engineering. Photo Credit: Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Ltd.

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has announced that it hopes to achieve carbon neutral operations at its Chalk River Laboratories campus in Ontario by 2040.   

Among the actions already taken by CNL include updated engineering standards and climate resilience planning requirements for all new construction projects and retrofits; energy performance improvements through the adoption of electric heating and conservation measures; the electrification of its vehicle fleet; and the decommissioning and removal of outdated, inefficient buildings. 

CNL has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 30% relative to 2005 levels, and is poised to achieve a 40% reduction by 2025.  

“Whether it was the development of our new forest management plan, the creation of an Indigenous procurement strategy, or the launch of our new education programming, CNL has had an exceptional year in our pursuit of more sustainable operations,” announced Joe McBrearty, CNL’s president and CEO, in a statement.  

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McBrearty added that the completion of its environmental, social, and governance materiality assessment will have perhaps the most significant impact on operations, as it allows CNL to “look inward at our operations through the eyes of our stakeholders and identify the issues and opportunities that we must prioritize as a company.” 

Chalk River Laboratories is one of the most complex laboratories in Canada, with activities ranging from services and development related to the nuclear industry, to other science areas such as physics, metallurgy, chemistry, biology, and engineering. 

The lab’s new carbon emission reduction plan was put in place to fulfill environmental objectives set out by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), a federal Crown corporation.  

CNL states that it is also exploring the potential to connect to a small modular reactor (SMR) that could have a power capacity of up to 300 MW per unit at the Chalk River site, leveraging the clean energy from the reactor to further offset the carbon footprint of its operations. 

CNL’s carbon-neutral goal is outlined in its newly-released 2023 ESG Report, A CNL Sustainability Performance Update. 


Related Professional Development Course 

Attend “Air Quality, Climate Change, and Decarbonization” on April 24th at the CANECT 2024 Environmental Compliance and Due Diligence Training Event in Vaughan, Ontario. Attendees will learn about decarbonization, resiliency to climate change and greenhouse gas reporting. Visit www.canect.net for more information. 

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