About the LLRWMO

The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office (LLRWMO) was established in 1982 to carry out the responsibilities of the federal government for the management of historic low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) in Canada. The Office is operated by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) through a cost-recovery agreement with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the federal department that provides funding, direction and priorities for the LLRWMO.

The LLRWMO manages historic LLRW at numerous waste sites located throughout Canada, successfully completed projects in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories. The Office engages the public through consultation and stakeholder involvement, establishing partnerships to resolve LLRW issues within their community.

The LLRWMO’s objectives are to help protect public health and the environment; and perform its duties in a timely and cost effective manner. The LLRWMO has completed many successful remediation projects in its more than 30 year history.

•  What is the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office? – Brochure

What is Low-Level Radioactive Waste?

In Canada, LLRW is defined by exclusion. If waste is radioactive, but is neither nuclear fuel waste (also called high-level waste) nor uranium mine and mill tailings, then it is classed as LLRW. Most of Canada’s LLRW consists of soil that became contaminated over the past 70 years, including contaminated soil and related waste resulting from the very early operations of Canada’s nuclear industry. The LLRW being produced today is the result of activities relating to nuclear energy generation, nuclear research and development. The production and use of radioisotopes extends into many areas including medicine, education, research, agriculture and industry.

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA: www.csa.ca), in collaboration with industry, government and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC: www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca), has developed a more extensive classification of LLRW. In this new classification, sub-level categories of LLRW include very-short-lived low-level radioactive waste (VSLLW) and very-low-level radioactive waste (VLLW). These sub-levels, as well as a broad description of radioactive waste management in Canada, are described in the 2008 Canadian National Report for the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.

LLRW is grouped into two broad categories for management purposes:

  1. 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 and for which the federal government has accepted responsibility for its long-term management.
  2. Ongoing Waste: LLRW that is generated from ongoing activities of organizations that are currently in operation, e.g. nuclear electricity generators. Owners of ongoing waste are responsible for its management.