3. Health and safety

In November 2002, Parliament passed the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA). It required the major owners of used nuclear fuel in Canada to establish the NWMO. The initial phase of our mandate was to study approaches for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel, and to recommend a preferred approach to the Government of Canada. The historical information about one part of that process is preserved here in line with our commitment to transparency.


    This series of papers is designed to provide information on the status of research, technologies, standards and procedures to reduce radiation and security risk associated with radioactive waste management.

    3.1 Status of Radiological Protection Technologies and Operational Procedures related to High-level Radioactive Waste Management (HLRWM)

    This paper presents the radiation protection principles, technologies and operational procedures related to radioactive waste that are currently in use or are planned for managing radioactive wastes in Canada, with a particular focus on high-level waste. The paper provides an overview of what radiation is and why it is potentially hazardous. The three types of radioactive waste in Canada: high-level waste, low-level waste and uranium mine tailings, are described. The “defence-in-depth” concept and the use of multiple barriers are discussed as provisions for radiation protection when handling, storing and disposing of the various types of radioactive waste. The waste produced at each step in the nuclear fuel cycle is listed with a brief explanation of how the public and the environment are being protected from exposure to the radioactive waste. A description is provided of the current management options for high-level waste, specifically the wet and dry storage methods. The elements of radiation protection are described as part of the Radiation Protection Programs that are in place at all nuclear facilities. A discussion is included on the radiation protection technologies and operational procedures that may be in place for the long-term solutions to protect the public and the environment.


    Authors Biography
    Candesco Research Corporation
    Company Profile

    Candesco Research Corporation is a 100% Canadian-owned company that provides high-value added management and technical services to the energy industry, focusing primarily on the nuclear energy field. Candesco Research Corporation was formed in 1999 from predecessor companies, including IDEA Research Inc. (established in 1982) and ALARA Research Inc. (established in 1994). Candesco and its predecessors have provided 21 years of managed task and staff augmentation services to the nuclear industry across Canada. Candesco’s offices are located in downtown Toronto, Canada.

    Our mission is to provide high quality full-scope professional service to our clients to help them meet their critical business objectives on time and within budget. We apply both established and emerging technology to deliver complete and effective solutions. We are committed to continually developing and applying state-of-the-art techniques in management, information and engineering science to meet complex technical and project management challenges.

    Candesco staff have significant experience managing complex multidisciplinary projects and processes in a wide range of areas. These include safety analysis, radiation safety engineering, R&D, regulatory interface, engineering analysis software and model development, and software quality assurance. Candesco staff have extensive experience in licensing, safety analysis, ALARA and radiological occupational safety assessments, and environmental impact assessments of various nuclear facilities, including nuclear power plants, radioactive waste management facilities, research reactors, and other nuclear installations, both international and domestic. Candesco’s highly experienced staff also provided technical support in various aspects of operation and maintenance of nuclear facilities, such as fuel handling, health physics, and radiation protection.

    Candesco holds a Certificate of Authorization from the Professional Engineers of Ontario, and is a member of the Canadian Nuclear Association.

    3.2 Human Health Aspects of High-level Radioactive Waste

    This paper covers general aspects of all radiation in our living environment including that from nature; from radioactive wastes; and from the many uses and sources of radiation in society, including nuclear power. It examines the radiation exposures and possible related health effects of some of the most highly exposed groups in both the general public and worker populations. There is a critical analysis of the Linear No Threshold (LNT) hypothesis; used to derive risk estimates of radiation exposures whether they are received chronically or acutely. The risk data for LNT were derived from very large acute radiation exposures on one very large population (the Japanese bomb survivors) and have been used to assess the hypothetical risks from chronic low dose and low dose rate radiation exposures to all others ever since. It provides empirical details of the many epidemiological studies of the actual health of those large populations of the general public, medical patients, medical professionals, and the numerous radiation worker groups that have been exposed over several decades to the large range of mostly chronic low dose and low dose rate radiation exposures. Many studies concern the health outcomes of large groups of people - mostly medically exposed patients - who receive very large acute radiation doses under treatment; doses which are hundreds to thousands of times the legal and regulated dose limits. The analysis includes a perspective evaluation of the relative positioning of the assumed and calculated human risks from radiation exposures, in the context of a ranking of the common and significant social risks in our advanced society.


    Author Biography

    John Sutherland, Edutech Enterprises

    The author has worked with radiation for the last forty years at university, in industry and most recently as a supervising Health Physicist for a CANDU nuclear power facility. His recent responsibilities were to conduct the environmental radiation monitoring program, and external dosimetry measurements for about 700 permanent employees and more than a hundred outage workers. Both the environmental monitoring and dosimetry programs are a requirement for an operating license for all nuclear power facilities in Canada. The environmental radiation measurements and monitoring sites included many in, and associated with, the Radioactive Waste Management and Dry Spent Fuel Storage facilities.

    He also participated in providing radiation protection training and support during nuclear outage maintenance work and in station-related activities including transfers of spent fuel into dry fuel storage canisters. He was a member of a long-running ad-hoc committee on external radiation dosimetry for the AECB (now the CNSC). He is an adjunct professor at UNB where he teaches a course on Nuclear Safety and Reliability to graduate and undergraduate engineers. He has made numerous presentations on the subject of radiation to professional groups, university classes, high school physics teachers, and while training radiation workers, firefighters, and other emergency responders. He is widely published and has written many scientific papers dealing with radiation, radiation risks, energy, nuclear cycles and nuclear wastes.

    3.3 Status of Canadian and International Efforts to Reduce the Security Risk of Used Nuclear Fuel


    The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) contracted SAIC Canada to produce a background paper that provides a factual accounting of current Canadian and international efforts for reducing the security risk associated with nuclear fuel waste. The events of 9-11 have had a significant impact in Canada on physical security arrangements for nuclear power plants and the Chalk River Laboratories. Security has been upgraded at all facilities making any attempt at sabotage or theft of nuclear fuel waste enormously difficult. Canada has in place the legislation and regulation required to meet a demanding security environment and the licensees have accepted the need for tighter security measures as good business practice. Unfortunately, the lack of agreed international standards for physical protection of nuclear fuel waste means that internationally physical security measures vary greatly from a high standard for G7 countries to inadequate security in less developed countries. However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has recognized the need for improved security arrangements and is pressing States to increase their efforts in this area.


    Author Biography

    Ken Donovan, SAIC Canada

    Mr. Ken Donovan is SAIC Canada’s Program Manager for the Operations and Engineering Support Program. A former member of the Canadian Forces, Ken has thirty years of military experience including nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) counter-terrorism.

    His expertise includes risk management (threat assessment, vulnerability assessment and critical infrastructure assessment), emergency management (mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery), crisis management, policy development, standardization and evaluation of operational doctrine and procedures, operations centre set-up and operation, and design of course training standards, training plans and exercises.

    He is the Information, Environmental and Engineering Solutions Division’s Quality Review Manager and Lead Internal Auditor. In this capacity, he is responsible for all aspects of the Division’s Quality Management System. During his seven years with SAIC Canada, Ken has been involved with several emergency management and security related projects.

    Two of his more recent projects were the development of the design basis threat (DBT) for sabotage of nuclear facilities and materials and theft of nuclear materials and threat analysis for identification of vital areas for AECL’s Chalk River Laboratories.

    3.4 Considerations in Developing a Safety Case for Spent Nuclear Fuel Management Facilities and Associated Infrastructure in Canada

    The Safety Case is the integration of arguments and evidence that describe, quantify and substantiate the safety, and the level of confidence in the safety, of a facility or activity. Part of the process of implementing a particular proposal for long-term management of spent nuclear fuel waste will be to establish confidence on the part of the public as well as regulatory, technical and government authorities that the safety objectives - such as public safety, environmental protection, worker safety, material safety and security - will be met. The Safety Case is a tool to be used to meet this goal.

    This paper provides the historical evolution of the Safety Case and lists the key components that build and communicate a convincing argument that a proposal has sound engineering, is environmentally safe, and will meet all regulatory requirements. It then describes what type of information would be included in a Safety Case for the options now being considered for the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste in Canada. Finally, specific challenges in developing the Safety Case for the long-term management of spent nuclear fuel are discussed, including the extended temporal phases, the limited experience, and the non-prescriptive regulatory approach. Recommended actions are provided to address the uncertainties raised by the challenges described.


    Author Biographies

    Katherine Moshonas Cole, P. Eng.
    Katherine Moshonas Cole has had over 17 years’ experience in the nuclear industry. Her work in regulatory affairs has included the licensing of nuclear facilities in Canada, the interpretation of CNSC regulations and ICRP/IAEA recommendations, and the management of environmental assessment activities. She has also worked extensively in health physics, radiation protection, and operational and design safety assessment.

    Most recently, Katherine served as Managing Director of ITER Canada and was a key member of the team promoting Canada’s stake in ITER, a $14B international fusion energy research project. Prior to this position she was Director of Regulatory Affairs for Iter Canada and the Iter International Fusion Energy Institute. Before this she spent 6 years in Germany and the United States with the ITER Joint Central Team’s Safety Environment and Health Group, during which time she led the program for Occupational Safety and Radiation Safety Assessment for the ITER design.

    In 1986 Katherine completed her B.A.Sc. in Engineering Science – Nuclear/Thermal Power at the University of Toronto and began her career with the Canadian Fusion Fuels Technology Program. She then spent 6 years with Ontario Hydro working in the areas of Nuclear Materials Management and Operational Health Physics. From 1993 to 1996 she licensed and managed a nuclear instrument calibration laboratory and performed various performance assessments and incident investigations on operating nuclear facilities in Canada and the United States.

    Katherine is a registered Professional Engineer with Professional Engineers Ontario. She is currently a Partner at Candesco, a Canadian company specializing in nuclear licence management, nuclear safety analysis, software development, and quality assurance.

    Patrick J. Reid, B. Sc.
    Patrick Reid began his work in the nuclear industry in 1988 while still engaged in his undergraduate studies, and has experience in nuclear power reactor re-commissioning and licensing, nuclear safety analysis, the development of industry standard tools for Candu safety analysis, and fusion reactor design. Mr. Reid graduated from the University of Waterloo in 1991, where he received a Bachelor of Science (Honours Physics, Mathematics Minor). After graduation, Mr. Reid joined Ontario Hydro as a Nuclear Design Engineer, working in the area of nuclear safety analysis, specializing in analysis of Candu fuel behaviour.

    In 1993, Mr. Reid left Ontario Hydro and became a consultant, moving to New Brunswick in order to provide services in the area of fuel and fuel channel design and safety analysis as well as specialized support in the area of reactor licensing and safety analysis, primarily for New Brunswick Power. In 1999, Mr. Reid became a founding partner of Candesco Research Corporation. Continuing to provide services in New Brunswick, Mr. Reid was the technical lead in the successful effort to gain regulatory approval for the demonstration irradiation of CANFLEX fuel bundles in the Point Lepreau Generating Station, as well as contributing to development of industry standard tools related to Candu safety analysis. Mr. Reid returned to Ontario in 2001 and was responsible for updating the Pickering B Safety Report as part of the Ontario Power Generation’s Licensing Basis Project. Since late 2002, Mr. Reid has been involved in the design assessment and safety analysis of a new fuel bundle design currently being implemented at the Bruce Power’s Bruce B reactors.

    Mr. Reid is actively involved with the executive of the Canadian Nuclear Society and with the International Youth Nuclear Congress. Mr. Reid was born and raised in Southern Ontario, and currently resides in Brampton with his wife, Sharon, and their two children.

    Ross C. K. Rock, B.A.Sc., M.A.Sc., P.Eng
    Ross Rock has worked in the nuclear industry since 1991 developing extensive expertise in safety analysis and licensing of nuclear power reactors. Key skills include project integration for large complex activities in the nuclear industry, the development and use of computer simulations, and the development and implementation of information systems to support analysis and licensing activities

    Mr. Rock graduated from University of Toronto in 1994, receiving a Bachelor of Applied Science (Honours) degree in Engineering Science, Nuclear and Thermal Power Option. Starting in 1991 and in conjunction with his undergraduate studies, Mr. Rock worked as a consultant trainee in the Canadian nuclear industry, developing and testing computer simulations of nuclear fuel bundle behaviour under accident conditions. From 1994 to 1997, Mr. Rock held the position of Nuclear Design Engineer at Ontario Hydro Nuclear, specializing in fuel analysis in support of reactor licence applications. In 1998 Mr. Rock received a Master of Applied Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto, specializing in Computational Fluid Dynamics.

    In 1999, Mr. Rock became a founding partner of Candesco Research Corporation. In his capacity as a consultant, Mr. Rock has been involved in key positions for various nuclear projects. In the past 5 years, Mr. Rock has held key positions in the preparation of the safety report for the MAPLE medical isotope production reactors in Chalk River, was the lead developer of the information systems in support of the Licensing Basis Project at Ontario Power Generation, and managed projects involving overseas CANDU facilities. Most recently, Mr. Rock has provided safety analysis project integration support to Bruce Power in its successful restart of Units 3 and 4 and in the analysis of a new fuel bundle design currently under development.

    Mr. Rock has been a Professional Engineer (Ontario) since 1996 and holds the title of Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Candesco Research Corporation. He was born and raised in Southern Ontario, and currently resides in Toronto with his wife, Ani, and their two children.

    3.5 A Risk-Based Monitoring Framework for Used Fuel Management

    The used nuclear fuel management system, whether a deep geological repository or an extended storage system will require monitoring. The purpose of this study is to develop a risk-based monitoring framework for used fuel management approaches. This is carried out in two steps:

    First, the various management methods are reviewed to estimate potential risks at each stage of their development.
    Second, the results of the review are used to develop, at a conceptual level, a monitoring framework, which focuses on the main areas of potential risk.


    Author Biography

    Nava C. Garisto, SENES Consultants Limited
    Dr. Nava C. Garisto is a senior scientist in the Risk and Radioactivity group at SENES with over 20 years experience in the management of radioactivity and mixed wastes. Dr. Garisto has an established international reputation in the development of risk estimates as strategic tools for making environmental management, remediation and monitoring decisions.

    Examples of recent work that Dr. Garisto directed or managed include: human-health and ecological risk assessment and risk-based monitoring plans for the Pickering nuclear generating station, the development of a risk-based monitoring framework for nuclear sites in Canada, including Darlington, Bruce, Chalk River, Gentilly-2, Pt. Lepreau, the Blind River uranium refinery and the Port Hope uranium conversion facility.

    In the past, Dr. Garisto led the development of the Canadian Vault model for assessing the performance of used nuclear fuel disposal, provided strategic advice on risk-based cleanup of radioactive contamination in eastern Germany and participated in Environmental Assessments on the storage of used fuel at Pickering and Darlington.

    Continued reading

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    The Study

    NWMO background papers

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    NWMO background papers

    2. Social and ethical dimensions