Low-Level and Intermediate Radioactive Waste

Low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) includes all LLRW arising from the activities associated with nuclear electricity generation, from nuclear research and development, and from the production and use of radioisotopes in medicine, education, research, agriculture and industry. Examples of LLRW are contaminated materials, rags and protective clothing. It also includes contaminated soils and related wastes resulting from the very early operations of Canada's radium industry. LLRW is grouped into two broad categories, as follows:

  • Ongoing Waste: LLRW that is generated from ongoing activities of companies that are currently in business, for example, nuclear electricity generators. Owners or producers of ongoing waste are responsible for its management.
  • Historic Waste: LLRW that was managed in the past in a manner no longer considered acceptable but for which the owner cannot reasonably be held responsible. The federal government has accepted responsibility for this waste.

Current Inventory and Accumulation Rate

At the end of 2003, there were about 2.29 million m3 of LLRW stored in Canada. At present, wastes are being managed in storage sites throughout the country pending the development and licensing of long-term waste management facilities.


It is estimated that the 2003 inventory of 2.3 million m3 will increase to approximately 2.6 million m3 by 2033.

Current Inventory and Accumulation Rate
WASTE SOURCE Inventory to End of 2003 (m3) Projected Inventory to End of 2004 (m3) Projected Inventory to End of 2033 (m3)
- Openrations Nuclear Fuel Cycle 64,400 70,200 237,500
Nuclear R&D 495,000 496,200 532,480
Radioisotope Production and Use 18,400 18,600 24,300
SUBTOTAL 577,800 585,000 794,300
- Decommissioning Nuclear Fuel Cycle 3,900 3,900 121,600
Nuclear R&D 2,300 2,400 3,800
Radioisotope Production and Use 0 0 0
SUBTOTAL 6,200 6,300 125,400
TOTAL ONGOING WASTE 584,000 591,300 919,700
Port Hope 500,000 500,000 500,000
Welcome and Port Granby 1,150,000 1,150,000 1,150,000
Other Locations 53,200 53,400 59,200
TOTAL HISTORIC WASTE 1,703,200 1,703,400 1,709,200
TOTAL LLRW 2,287,200 2,294,70 2,628,900