Questions and Answers

The following is a list of questions/comments that the NSNWCLC has received to date and the corresponding answers from the NWMO:

1. How big of a footprint will the actual site take?

Any design at this early stage is conceptual, and many details will depend on the characteristics of the site selected. The NWMO has developed a “reference design” as a basis for planning and costing, and as a starting point for more detailed discussion with communities involved in the site selection process.

Based on this conceptual design, surface facilities require a dedicated surface area of about 600 metres by 550 metres for the main buildings and about 100 metres by 100 metres for the ventilation exhaust shaft. In addition, the excavated rock from the underground repository will need to be managed for use in backfilling and sealing the repository. Storage of this rock during operation of the facility is expected to require an area of about 700 metres by 700 metres. This could be located on the site or away from the site, as determined together with the community.

An example underground layout for a deep geological repository would require an underground footprint of about 2 kilometres by 3 kilometres. The actual underground footprint at any particular site would depend on a number of factors, including the characteristics of the rock at the preferred site, the final design of the repository and the inventory of used fuel to be managed.

Land above the underground footprint that is not required for the surface facilities or to meet regulatory requirements could be available for public or private uses. These would be determined during the licensing process for the facility.

You can read more about this conceptual design in the Chapter 4 of the document Description of Canada’s Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel and Centre of Expertise, which is posted on our Web site along with a number of other brochures about various aspects of Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term care of used nuclear fuel: www.nwmo.ca/brochures


2. What affect/restrictions will there be on hunting, fishing and trapping in the area?

In addition to meeting strict technical criteria, any potential site must also be considered an appropriate location for the facility by the community. The surface facilities require a dedicated surface area of about 600 metres by 550 metres for the main buildings and about 100 metres by 100 metres for the ventilation and exhaust shaft. Land above the underground footprint that is not required for the surface facilities or to meet regulatory requirements could potentially be made available for public or private uses.

For more information about the site selection process, we would encourage you to visit our Web site: www.nwmo.ca/sitingprocess. For more about the facilities required, it might be helpful to review the document Description of Canada’s Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel and Centre of Expertise which you can find along with a number of other brochures describing various aspects of the NWMO’s work and Canada’s Plan for the long-term care of used nuclear fuel: www.nwmo.ca/brochures


3. What restriction will there be on mining rights and possible future cottage development?

Regarding your question about mining, one of the criteria a potential site has to meet is that available land must not contain economically exploitable natural resources as known today, so that the repository site is unlikely to be disturbed by future generations. Also, the presence of natural resources, for example resources that could be mined, is often associated with geologies that are not favourable for the long-term containment and isolation of used nuclear fuel, such as the presence of fractures.

In addition to meeting strict technical criteria, any potential site must also be considered an appropriate location for the facility by the community. The surface facilities require a dedicated surface area of about 600 metres by 550 metres for the main buildings and about 100 metres by 100 metres for the ventilation and exhaust shaft. Land above the underground footprint that is not required for the surface facilities or to meet regulatory requirements could potentially be available for public or private uses.


4. Could this affect our Cross Canada Trail route that crosses the township north of Turtle Lake?

In addition to meeting strict technical criteria, any potential site must also be considered an appropriate location for the facility by the community and that the project be implemented in a way that will help foster long-term well-being and sustainability. So for example, if it is important to the community that any potential site not impact the Cross Canada Trail, that will be taken into account.

The site must also have available land of sufficient size to accommodate the surface and underground facilities, and must be outside of protected areas, heritage sites, provincial parks and national parks.


5. Will the repository generate jobs? What type of jobs and how many?

Implementing Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term care of used nuclear fuel will directly involve a large number of scientists, engineers, professionals, trades people and other workers to support the deep geological repository and centre of expertise. It will have a significant economic impact on any community and region in which it is located. It is important that the project be implemented in a way that will help foster long-term well-being and sustainability.

The number of direct jobs in the local community hosting the repository and in the surrounding general region will depend in part on the location of the repository, and the capacity of the community, region and province to support the project. The NWMO will work with the community to discuss the types of investments that may be required to support the community and area to capture and retain benefits associated with the project in areas as labour training, supporting infrastructure, business incubation, strategic hiring and procurement. In addition to the on-site employment, the project will create significant direct employment opportunities for a variety of support services such as transportation, catering and equipment supply. The project is also expected to create wealth in the form of business profits and personal income.

A profile for direct jobs at the site has been estimated by project phase and is listed in Table 6.2 of the document Description of Canada’s Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel and Centre of Expertise, which is posted on our Web site along with a number of other brochures about various aspects of Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term care of used nuclear fuel: www.nwmo.ca/brochures. For reference, here is a chart showing estimated jobs from the construction phase through to the long-term monitoring phase:

Chart with information on the number and type of jobs in each phase of the project


6. What is the timetable for development?

Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term care of used nuclear fuel will be implemented in phases and operate for many decades. Below is a brief summary of what each phase involves, and estimates of how long each phase might take. For more details, we would encourage you to review the document Description of Canada’s Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel and Centre of Expertise, which is posted on our Web site along with a number of other brochures about various aspects of the project: http://www.nwmo.ca/brochures#<http://www.nwmo.ca/brochures> Site selection and Regulatory Approvals (approximately 12 to 15 years) In collaboration with the community, the NWMO will conduct detailed studies and evaluations at the site to confirm whether it is suitable in terms of safety and community well-being, and to support the regulatory approval process. Site selection is a nine-step process, which you can read more about on our Web site: http://www.nwmo.ca/sitingprocess_overview5. We are in the very early stages of this work today, and expect it will take approximately seven to 10 years.

Once a location has been selected as the preferred site, the NWMO must successfully complete an environmental assessment, as required by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and obtain a licence from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for site preparation and construction. We expect this work will take approximately five years.

Construction of the Underground Demonstration Facility and Deep Geological Repository (approximately 10 years) After receiving agreement from a willing host community, successful completion of an environmental assessment review and receiving site prepration and construction licences from the CNSC, construction of the project can begin.

Operation of the Facilities (approximately 40 years or more) After receiving agreement from the community and an operating licence from the CNSC, operation of the facility can begin.

Extended Monitoring (potentially 70 years or more) The NWMO will work with the community and others to conduct monitoring of the repository to support data collection and to confirm the long-term safety and performance of the repository system. Future society will determine the appropriate form and duration of monitoring. The regulator will be involved in all decisions made about how monitoring will be conducted at the site.

Decommissioning and Closure of the Facility (approximately 30 years) The NWMO will work with the community and others to decommission the facilities. Future society will determine the manner of final closure of the repository. Once a decision is made to close the facility, the NWMO will apply to the CNSC for a decommissioning licence, and an environmental assessment would be conducted. The NWMO will remove underground equipment, and backfill and seal the access tunnels and shafts. Surface facilities will also be dismantled at a pace and in a manner determined collaboratively with the community, regulators and other interested individuals.

Postclosure Monitoring (to be determined) Future society will determine the form and duration of monitoring to take place after the repository is closed. The regulator will be involved in all decisions about how monitoring will be conducted at the site.


7. What kind of spin-offs could the area expect?

Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel is a major national infrastructure project that will have a significant economic impact on any community and region in which it is located. It is important that the project be implemented in a way that will help foster long-term well-being and sustainability. While detailed economic benefits will depend on the location of the site and the manner in which it is implemented, the NWMO has commissioned a preliminary assessment of possible economic benefits from hosting the APM project. You can read these general, preliminary findings on our Web site: http://www.nwmo.ca/sitingprocess_economicbenefits


8. Could we ask for a hiring quota for the Township/Region as the project develops (as everyone else is doing)?

Decisions like this will be influenced by the community’s goals and aspirations for itself. The NWMO will work with the community and the surrounding area as part of a long-term partnership to identify a plan to foster well-being, as the community and area defines it, through implementation of the project. This could include exploration of a hiring quota.


9. What kind of tax dollars does a project like this typically generate?

Municipal taxes from the facility have not yet been determined, however the NWMO is committed to enhancing the well-being of the community and area. This may include taxes and/or payments in lieu of taxes.


10. Are we right to assume that any roads developed into the interior will be restricted access?

Neither a dedicated road nor railway is needed, and there is no need to close the transit route. These roads would be available for general use.


11. How will this impact groundwater (wells)? And international use along the Great Lakes? (Question as it appeared on comment page)

It won’t. Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of nuclear fuel has a focus on safety as its top priority. Safety, security and the protection of people and the environment are first and foremost. The NWMO is seeking a suitable rock formation to safely isolate and contain Canada’s used nuclear fuel. And before any licenses are issued, the project will be subject to a thorough and comprehensive regulatory review process by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), including a full environmental assessment.

Detailed field investigations involving geophysical surveys, characterization of the existing environment, drilling and sampling of boreholes, field and laboratory testing, and monitoring activities will be conducted during site characterization to affirm the suitability of the site. In particular, evidence will be sought that conditions at the site have been stable with little to no groundwater movement for millions of years.


12. I just have to say DON’T BUILD IT, YOUR GONNA BLOW US UP!! How r r children live (Question as it appeared on comment page)

Thank you for your interest in Canada’s plan for the safe long-term management of used nuclear fuel. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization appreciates you taking time to share your views with us. All comments we receive are taken into account and help inform our work.

You may be interested to know that used nuclear fuel pellets are not flammable, explosive or fissile. Used nuclear fuel pellets are made from uranium dioxide powder, baked in a furnace to produce a hard, high-density ceramic. Ceramics do not readily dissolve in water and are resistant to high temperatures.

That said, used nuclear fuel is a hazard and requires careful management for many hundreds of thousands of years. Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term care of used nuclear fuel calls for centralized containment and isolation of used nuclear fuel in a repository deep underground in a suitable rock formation. Safety is the top priority.
If you’d like to learn more about Adaptive Phased Management and the process being implemented to identify an informed and willing host community for a deep geological repository, we encourage you to check our web site at: www.nwmo.ca/sitingprocess<http://www.nwmo.ca/sitingprocess>


13. I just don’t really think it’s a good idea, I know you guys put a lot of effort into it but I think there’s a better way than nuclear. (Question as it appeared on comment page)

It is not the intent of the NWMO to advocate one energy source over another. Used nuclear fuel exists today in Canada and needs to be managed safely over the long-term. The NWMO is committed to protecting both this and future generations in this regard. If you’d like to learn more about Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel and the process being implemented to identify an informed and willing host community for a deep geological repository, we encourage you to check out our web site at: www.nwmo.ca/sitingprocess<http://www.nwmo.ca/sitingprocess>


14. Public Perception: out of area and inside of area? As property prices come in line with provincial averages, would you choose a community with nuclear waste storage? Government: Laws made by one government elect are broken by another, Canadian nuclear waste becomes North American or World. Again, Hwys traffic road repairs fraling our environment. Uranium Elliot Lake public perception! We can develop this Northern Ontario jewel without this project. We say No. (Question as it appeared on comment page)

Thank you for your interest in Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel. You’ve raised several important topics:

Property value: The studies that will be conducted as part of the site selection process are designed to explore, in detail, the likely affect of the implementation of the project on the individual community and specific region on a wide variety of factors, including property values. These studies will be conducted with the involvement of the community. The findings from these and other studies will be available to communities and are expected to be an important input to a community’s decision on whether it wishes to host the project. Based on experience of other communities in proximity to nuclear facilities, there appears to be potential for the project to both increase housing values and increase the value of commercial real estate in the area. The studies that will be conducted will explore this potential specific to this area. In order to address the concerns that some people may have, the project is expected to include a Property Value Protection Program (PVP) designed to provide assurance to property owners that, if activities arising from the project affect the value of their land, home or business property, compensation would be available.

Canadian vs international nuclear waste: In developing Canada’s plan during the study period (2002-to 2005), Canadians, including Aboriginal people, were clear that Canadians have a responsibility to manage the waste we have created in Canada and that no foreign waste (used fuel from outside of Canada) be placed in the deep geological repository. The APM approach was designed, recommended and selected by the Government of Canada through a federal cabinet decision on this basis. No used nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste from outside Canada will be placed in the APM facility.
Safety of transportation routes: Safety, security and protection of people and the environment are the primary focus in all aspects of APM, and transportation is an important consideration in the assessment of the safety of any site. For a potential host location to be considered technically feasible for a repository site, it must offer safe, secure routes for transporting used nuclear fuel from interim storage facilities in Canada to the repository site. Transportation infrastructure must already exist or be capable of development.

Transportation of nuclear materials is a highly regulated activity involving both Transport Canada and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. There has never been a serious injury, overexposure, fatality or environmental consequence as a result of more than 20-thousand used fuel shipments traveling over 30-million kilometers in Canada or internationally over the past 45 years. Importantly, the package used to transport used nuclear fuel is designed to meet a series of challenging performance requirements specified by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and based on standards developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency to withstand severe impact, fire and immersion in water. You can read more on this topic in the brochure Safe and Secure Transportation of Canada’s Used Nuclear Fuel: http://www.nwmo.ca/brochures


15. What if it explodes? (Question as it appeared on comment page)

Used nuclear fuel pellets are not flammable, explosive or fissile. Used nuclear fuel pellets are made from uranium dioxide powder, baked in a furnace to produce a hard, high-density ceramic. Ceramics do not readily dissolve in water and are resistant to high temperatures.

That said, used nuclear fuel is a hazard and requires careful management for many hundreds of thousands of years. Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term care of used nuclear fuel calls for centralized containment and isolation of used nuclear fuel in a repository deep underground in a suitable rock formation. Safety is the top priority.

If you’d like to learn more about Adaptive Phased Management and the process being implemented to identify an informed and willing host community for a deep geological repository, we encourage you to check our web site at: www.nwmo.ca/sitingprocess<http://www.nwmo.ca/sitingprocess>


16. You are not contemplating storage of nuclear waste. We have no good way to dispose of it so should generate no more. The half life is ridiculously long.
– Stop producing
– No room to store what we do not process 
Cancer locally is unusually high & natural radiation (Question/comment as it appeared on comment page)

By way of background, in June 2007 the Government of Canada selected Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel. The plan, known as Adaptive Phased Management (APM), emerged from a three year study three year dialogue with Canadians and is responsive to the priorities they said were important. More than 18-thousand Canadians, including 25-hundred Aboriginal people and 500 specialists, in every province and territory, participated in the dialogue between 2002 and 2005.

Canadians said clearly during the NWMO study period that our generation, which has benefited from nuclear power, must put in place a long-term management approach for used fuel and not leave it as a legacy for future generations. The APM approach that was identified by Canadians as the one that best meets their values and objectives. The ultimate goal of Adaptive Phased Management is the centralized containment and isolation of the used fuel in a deep geological repository located at a safe site with an informed and willing host.

It is not the intent of the NWMO to advocate one energy source over another. Used nuclear fuel exists today in Canada and needs to be managed safely over the long-term. The NWMO is committed to protecting both this and future generations in this regard. If you’d like to learn more about Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel and the process being implemented to identify an informed and willing host community for a deep geological repository, we encourage you to check out our web site at: www.nwmo.ca/sitingprocess


17. In case of emergency – how large an area needs to be evacuated? What is the evacuation plan? In light of recent train disasters how are we assured no accident or terrorist attack can happen when the fuel is en route?
Who has been approached previously for nuclear waste disposal and what was their reason for refusal?
Are high unemployment areas like ours targeted for these sites? How many people on the committee live in areas with active sites? Are we sure no fracking activities will ever be performed in the area possibly causing quake activity? With recent train and sink hole disasters – what assurance is there, transporting this waste can safely survive such disasters.
What assurance in the way of proof are we assured our grandchildren’s grandchildren are 100% safe from these projects? (Question/comment as it appeared on comment page)

Safety, security and protection of people and the environment are central to the siting process. The repository will only be put in a place where people and the environment can be protected. Any site selected will need to address scientific and technical siting factors that will acknowledge precaution and ensure protection for present and future generations. The NWMO will ultimately have to demonstrate these characteristics in any proposal submitted for regulatory review, and the regulator will determine if a licence may be issued for the project to proceed.

The NWMO will provide an emergency response plan to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Transport Canada and the provinces. The NWMO will co-ordinate its planning with the provinces to provide training and conduct exercises along the designated routes.

Shipments must follow a comprehensive transportation security plan reviewed and approved by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). This plan will include continuous tracking of shipments, with a central command centre providing a single point of contact for all agencies involved in transportation-related communications. The centre will allow quick access to information such as the vehicle’s location, weather, traffic and routing, and will enable communication with the driver, security personnel and, if needed, with regulatory agencies and emergency responders.

The NWMO is seeking an informed and wiling community to host the project. The project will not be imposed on any community. The process for identifying an informed and willing host community for a deep geological repository is designed to ensure, above all, that the site selected is safe and secure for people and the environment, now and in the future.

The process is designed to hear and take into account all perspectives to ensure Canada’s used nuclear fuel will be safely managed over the long-term in a deep geological repository hosted by an informed and willing community whose well-being is enhanced by the project. Only communities that are interested in the project, and express this interest, will be considered. Currently, 15 communities are engaged in learning about Canada’s plan and the siting process. The siting process involves a number of steps. A community will proceed from one step to the next only if it chooses to do so and if the work to assess the suitability of the site supports it. Only communities that are interested in the project, and that have expressed this interest, will be considered. Canada`s deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel will not be imposed on any community.

For more information about the site selection process, visit www.nwmo.ca/sitingprocess.

Regarding your question about fracking, one of the criteria a potential site has to meet is that available land must not contain economically exploitable natural resources as known today, so that the repository site is unlikely to be disturbed by future generations. Also, the presence of natural resources, for example resources that could be mined, is often associated with geologies that are not favourable for the long-term containment and isolation of used nuclear fuel, such as the presence of fractures.

Regarding transportation, over 45 years, there have been more than 20,000 shipments of used nuclear fuel worldwide, by road, rail and water transport with no serious injuries, fatalities, or environmental consequences attributable to the radioactive nature of the used nuclear fuel being transported.

Safety is built into every element of the transportation system, beginning with the used fuel
transportation package. This transport container is specifically designed to protect the public by withstanding severe accident conditions. It is made of a solid stainless steel box with walls nearly 30 centimetres thick, a lid attached by 32 bolts, and an impact limiter. When loaded with 192 used Candu fuel bundles it weighs almost 35 tonnes.

The transportation of used nuclear fuel is a stringently regulated activity involving both Transport Canada and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The transportation package is designed to meet a series of challenging performance requirements specified by the CNSC and based on international standards developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It must undergo a series of severe tests to ensure its radioactive contents are not released.

Trailers to haul used nuclear fuel containers are specially designed for the purpose and include secure tie downs and anti-sway and anti-roll features. The tractor pulling the unit has numerous safety features including a digital survey meter to detect any leaks, a shut down switch and sophisticated communication and tracking equipment to keep in constant contact with a control centre. Drivers must have an excellent safe driving record and will be highly trained. Emergency response and security plans are an important part of the overall transportation plan.

For more information about transportation:

  • We have developed a comprehensive brochure called Safe and Secure Transportation of Used Nuclear Fuel, which we distribute at events such as open houses and which you can find on our Web site: www.nwmo.ca/brochures.
  • We have created a video about the transportation of used nuclear fuel included in our exhibits and on our Web site: http://www.nwmo.ca/videosf/video:36/Transporting-Canadas-Used-Nuclear-Fuel.
  • We have run questions and answers about transporting used nuclear fuel in local newspapers as part of our advertising series featuring some of the questions and answers we hear most often. You can also view this column on our web site: http://www.nwmo.ca/askthenwmo?news_id=417

Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term care of used nuclear fuel is designed to ensure that, above all, the site selected is safe and secure and meets the highest scientific, professional and ethical standards. Safety, security and protection of people and the environment are first and foremost, all regulatory requirements will be met or exceeded, and the best available knowledge will inform the process.

Any selected site will have to satisfy the site evaluation criteria listed in NWMO site selection process, which you can find on our Web site: http://www.nwmo.ca/uploads_managed/MediaFiles/1545_processforselectingasiteforcan.pdf

Six key safety-related questions will be asked of any site:

  1. Are the characteristics of the rock at the site appropriate to ensuring the long-term containment and isolation of used nuclear fuel from humans, the environment and surface disturbances caused by human activities and natural events?
  2. Is the rock formation at the site geologically stable and likely to remain stable over the very long term in a manner that will ensure the repository will not be substantially affected by geological and climate change processes such as earthquakes and glacial cycles?
  3. Are conditions at the site suitable for the safe construction, operation and closure of the repository?
  4. Is human intrusion at the site unlikely, for instance through future exploration or mining?
  5. Can the geologic conditions at the site be practically studied and described on dimensions that are important for demonstrating long-term safety?
  6. Can a transportation route be identified or developed by which used nuclear fuel can safely and securely be transported to the site from the locations at which it is stored?

These key safety-related questions must be addressed through the development of a robust safety case.

The site will be evaluated through a series of progressively more detailed scientific and technical assessments over a series of steps. The NWMO will be required to demonstrate the safety of the repository and its components to the satisfaction of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in order to receive a licence to construct the facility.


18. Does the Township want this facility? I would like to see it as far from the great lakes as possible. (Question/comment as it appeared on comment page)

The Township of The North Shore has not made any decisions or commitments to the project at this time other than to learn more about Canada’s long-term plan for management of used nuclear fuel. This is a multi-year process and participation of the public is so important at this stage to get questions and comments addressed which will help the Township and the residents of the area in the decision making process. This is not a decision that will be made by the Township alone but instead one of the requirements of the project is that a willing host community is identified. The residents of the area will have a chance to vote on their position regarding this project at a later stage. We are currently in Step 3, Phase 1 of a process that is expected to take a total of 10 years to identify a suitable site. As part of the upcoming phases, if the township qualifies and chooses to continue, is a very detailed study of locations and geology, including environmental aspects such as proximity to the great lakes. These important pieces of information will be looked at in detail to find the best, safest and most appropriate location for this project.


19. Lets assume an earthquake occurred of high caliber – from photo enclosed those canisters holding containers, an absolute catastophy without question. There is no clear picture on nuclear waste “absolute” safe containment or storage. If you ask all of us therefore, were? Everybody will have answers, if its what is required, in order for a “go ahead” mine would be, don’t tell me its all and well – “time repeatedly proves miscalculation at a price. (Question/comment as it appeared on comment page)

The safety of the deep geological repository is built upon a system of natural and engineered barriers that are designed to contain and isolate used nuclear fuel from people and the environment. The robustness of the used fuel containers and repository sealing systems protect against any radiological release, either as a result of accidents or due to natural events such as earthquakes, climate change, and extreme events like glaciation. If you are interested in reading more about the multiple barriers that will be used and the purpose each serves, we would encourage you to read the backgrounder we’ve published the topic, which is posted on our website: www.nwmo.ca/uploads_managed/MediaFiles/1588_multiplebarrier.pdf.

The purpose of the Deep Geological Repository (DGR) is to safely contain and isolate used nuclear fuel in a stable rock formation. The DGR is designed to protect people and the environment in a passive manner against a wide range of natural events like earthquakes, without relying on active maintenance or active safety features such as power backup or cooling systems.

The NWMO and other international waste management organizations have conducted many studies and analyses on the impact of extreme events on a DGR. It is well established that deep underground structures are more resilient to earthquakes than surface structures. In addition, an important passive safety feature incorporated in a DGR is that the used nuclear fuel is placed in a deep geological formation using a multi-barrier system that incorporates robust, long-lived containers and self-sealing clay barriers.

The NWMO site evaluation process is a thorough and progressive (7-10 years) process based on a comprehensive set of site evaluation criteria that include earthquakes. The preferred repository site will be selected in an area where current and future seismic activity at the repository site will not adversely impact the integrity and safety of the repository system during operation and in the very long term.

While the repository will be sited in a low seismicity area, it will be designed to withstand large magnitude earthquakes. Addressing the impact of earthquakes would involve the following key considerations:

  • Seismic history and regional structural geology;
  • Proximity of major faults or fractures, including their size, age and activity;
  • Evidence and timing of any displacement of rock along old faults;
  • Groundwater chemistry and indications for stability over long periods of time;
  • The strength of the rock, etc.

Finally, in order to license a deep geological repository, the NWMO will have to demonstrate its safety to the satisfaction of the host community, the regulator, and to other interested or potentially affected individuals and organizations.

By way of background, in June 2007 the Government of Canada selected Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel. The plan, known as Adaptive Phased Management (APM), emerged from a three year dialogue with Canadians and is responsive to the priorities they said were important.

More than 18-thousand Canadians, including 25-hundred Aboriginal people and 500 specialists, in every province and territory, participated in the dialogue between 2002 and 2005.

Canadians said clearly during the NWMO study period that our generation, which has benefited from nuclear power, must put in place a long-term management approach for used fuel and not leave it as a legacy for future generations. The APM approach that was identified by Canadians as the one that best meets their values and objectives. The ultimate goal of Adaptive Phased Management is the centralized containment and isolation of the used fuel in a deep geological repository located at a safe site with an informed and willing host.


20.

  1. Is any ever adequately stored 
  2. What is the half life
  3. Long term effects of the nuclear waste
  4. Total “load” of waste in Canada/world
  5. Projected production of waste vs. ability to safely store the waste

Since there is no suitable/safe way to “deactivate” nuclear waste, other than natural decay, how can one consider ANY site, least of all extreme environments ie – Northern Ontario where there is less margin for error/adaptation/accommodation. There is already a high incidence of CANCER, also high level of natural radiation & you are considering more! You cannot be considering storage of nuclear waste; sewage disaster on Lake Lauzon is unsatisfactory – solve that problem 1st – leave this for the next 1000 years. (Question/comment as it appeared on comment page)

Thank you for your interest in Canada’s plan for the safe long-term management of used nuclear fuel. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization appreciates your taking time to share your views with us. All comments we receive are taken into account and help inform our work. If you’d like to learn more about Adaptive Phased Management and the process being implemented to identify an informed and willing host community for a deep geological repository, we encourage you to check our web site at: www.nwmo.ca/sitingprocess.

By way of background, the Government of Canada selected Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel in June 2007. The approach, called Adaptive Phased Management (APM), calls for the centralized containment and isolation of used nuclear fuel in a repository deep underground in a suitable rock formation and a national centre of expertise, with an informed and willing host.

The North Shore is one of 15 communities currently involved in the early stages of the process for selecting a site. Over time and through increasingly detailed studies it will become clearer which communities have the strongest potential to safely host the project. Only communities that are interested in the project, and that have expressed this interest, will be considered. Canada’s deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel will not be imposed on any community.

Although its radioactivity decreases with time, chemical toxicity persists and the used fuel will remain a potential health risk for many hundreds of thousands of years. For this reason, used fuel requires careful management essentially indefinitely. Canada’s used fuel is now safely stored on an interim basis at licensed surface facilities located at the nuclear power plants where it is produced. This interim storage requires ongoing care and management and would not be suitable over the very long time frame for which used nuclear fuel needs to be managed.

You asked specifically about half life. A recent graph of decay of radioactivity versus time in used fuel (normalized to per kg of uranium) is available in NWMO TR-2012-08, Fourth Case Study Reference Data and Codes, Figure 4.2. Information on the inventory and half-lives of important radionuclides is provided in Table 4.4 in the same report. You can find this and other technical reports on our Web site: www.nwmo.ca/technicalresearch.

There are currently just over 2.4 million used nuclear fuel bundles in Canada. If stacked like cordwood, all this used nuclear fuel could fit into six hockey rinks from the ice surface to the top of the boards. At the end of the planned operation of Canada’s existing nuclear reactors, the number of used nuclear fuel bundles will total about 4 million.

Safety, security and protection of people and the environment are central to the siting process. The repository will only be put in a place where people and the environment can be protected. Any site selected will need to address scientific and technical siting factors that will acknowledge precaution and ensure protection for present and future generations. The NWMO will ultimately have to demonstrate these characteristics in any proposal submitted for regulatory review, and the regulator will determine if a licence may be issued for the project to proceed.

For more information, please contact:

Nuclear Waste Management Organization
22 St. Clair Avenue East, 6th Floor
Toronto, ON M4T 2S3
Tel: 416.934.9814
Toll Free: 1.866.249.6966
Fax: 416.934.9526
Email: askthenwmo@nwmo.ca