Nipigon, ON ---- October 23, 2011 --- Township of Nipigon representatives visited Toronto recently to meet with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to learn about Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel. The ‘learn more’ opportunity, funded by the NWMO, included a detailed briefing by NWMO staff, and a tour of the Pickering Waste Management Facility, where used nuclear fuel is currently stored on an interim basis.
“Regardless of where this Depository is eventually located it will have an impact on all communities” commented Mayor Richard Harvey. “As Community Leaders we feel it is important to be engaged in the process to protect the interests and concerns of our community.” The NWMO said that it anticipates that it will take between seven and ten years to decide on where to locate the deep geological repository and associated facilities. “This is a very long learning process that is just beginning,” continued Harvey; “Ultimately, there will have to be a compelling demonstration of willingness expressed by the citizens of any interested community, after a long period of site assessment, before it is selected to host the project.”
In June 2007, the Government of Canada selected Adaptive Phased Management as Canada’s plan for safeguarding the public and environment over the very long time in which used nuclear fuel must be managed. The plan requires that Canada’s used nuclear fuel be safely and securely contained and isolated from people and the environment in a deep geological repository in a suitable rock formation. In May 2010, the NWMO published a process for identifying an informed and willing community to host the project.
“Nipigon Council has not made any decision about the project whatsoever”, said Councillor Louise Dupuis. “As we learn about the deep geological project and the site selection process, it is important that the community, including neighbouring First Nations, learn along with us.” The Township is considering asking the NWMO to create an information kiosk for the Township where people can drop by and pick up material at their leisure. Backgrounders on various topics will be available and a touch screen television will be installed where people can watch animated videos of the project and on used nuclear fuel transportation.
The Nipigon delegation included Mayor Richard Harvey, Councillors Louise Dupuis, Levina Collins, Gordon Mackenzie and James Foulds, Chief Administrative Officer Lindsay Mannila, Economic Development Officer Sarah Lewis and Economic Development Committee member Greg Imhoff.
For more information about the NWMO, and the site selection process, please visit: www.nwmo.ca/sitingprocess
(Photo: Standing in front of a dry storage container (DSC) at the Pickering Waste Management Facility are from left to right Greg Imhoff, Alec Blyth, Nuclear Waste Management Organization, Name, Name, Levina Collins, Richard Harvey, Sarah Lewis, Louise Dupuis, Lindsay Mannila and Bill Scott, OPG.)
Canada’s Plan for the Long-Term Management of Used Nuclear Fuel – NWMO Frequently Asked Questions
What is Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel?
In 2007, the Government of Canada selected Adaptive Phased Management as the plan for safeguarding the public and the environment over the very long time in which Canada’s used nuclear fuel must be managed. The cornerstone of this plan is containment and isolation of Canada’s used nuclear fuel in a deep repository constructed in a suitable geological formation, in an informed, willing community. The plan will be implemented over many years through a process of phased and adaptive decision-making, guided by citizen engagement and the most advanced knowledge and expertise.
What facilities will be constructed?
This national infrastructure project will involve the development of a deep geological repository with placement rooms for used nuclear fuel, approximately 500 metres underground. Supporting this repository will be an underground demonstration facility, surface buildings and a centre of expertise that will become a hub for national and international scientific collaboration.
How much land is required?
The project will require a dedicated surface area of about 100 hectares (250 acres) for the surface buildings and associated facilities. The underground repository itself will require a subsurface area in suitable host rock of approximately 2.5 kilometres by 1.5 kilometres (375 hectares/930 acres) at a depth of about 500 metres.
What are the transportation requirements?
Used nuclear fuel will be transported from the interim storage facilities where it is produced and safely managed now to the centralized site of the deep geological repository. Depending on the location of the site, this may involve the use of road, rail or water transport, or a combination of these modes, which are used widely today internationally. Transportation of this material will need to meet stringent requirements of Transport Canada and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
How will people and the environment be protected?
A multiple-barrier system will safely contain and isolate the used nuclear fuel. The repository and containers for used fuel are designed to provide multiple engineered barriers using robust, corrosion-resistant materials. A further barrier is provided by the host rock in which the repository is built. The geology provides the principal barrier between the used fuel containers and the surface environment. Many years of investigation will be involved in demonstrating that the geology in that location meets strict technical safety requirements. Once placed in the repository, the used nuclear fuel will be monitored and retrievable.
How will the project be regulated?
The project will be subject to a thorough and comprehensive regulatory review process to ensure that it is implemented in a manner that protects the safety of people and the environment, now and in the future. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission will review and assess the project and site locations, and ultimately will be responsible for issuing licences authorizing the project to proceed to different phases of its life cycle development. The Government of Canada, through Natural Resources Canada, monitors the NWMO on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance with the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act.
What are the benefits for a community and region that host the project?
The project will be implemented through a long-term partnership involving the community, the larger region in which it is located and the NWMO. It is important that it be implemented in a way that will help foster long-term well-being and sustainability. The development and operations of the facilities will generate thousands of jobs in the host region and potentially hundreds of jobs in a host community for many decades.
What are other countries doing?
Internationally, countries are at different stages of designing or implementing their long-term management plans for used nuclear fuel. Canada’s plan for a multiple-barrier system based on a deep geological repository is consistent with programs that have been developed in many other countries with nuclear power programs such as Sweden, Finland, France and the United Kingdom.