Will the jobs at the repository be dangerous?


Last updated 10/18/2016

No. We are committed to meeting or exceeding all regulatory standards and requirements for protecting the health, safety, and security of workers, the public and the environment. Safety is our number one priority.

The deep geological repository must be licensed by Canada's nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The licensing process is very detailed and covers 14 separate topics associated with safety such as radiation protection, emergency preparedness, environmental protection, and equipment fitness for service.

The CNSC assesses licence applications to ensure:

  • Safety measures are technically and scientifically sound;
  • All requirements are met; and
  • The appropriate safety systems are in place to protect workers, the public and the environment.

We will need to demonstrate that regulatory requirements in the safety areas will be met for each phase of the project before it can move ahead.

In addition to the regulations under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and other associated nuclear regulations, we will need to comply with other provincial regulations such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act to promote and provide a robust safety culture for workers.

Safety and control areas the CNSC evaluatesRegulatory Oversight

More about Environment, Safety and Security, Project Facilities

Featured Questions

How will people and the environment be protected?


Last updated 10/18/2016

Canada's plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel involves containing and isolating it in a deep geological repository.

Safety of people and the environment is the top priority in the process for selecting a repository site. We will need to demonstrate that any site selected can safely contain and isolate used nuclear fuel for a very long period of time. There cannot be any credible risk from the repository to the public or the environment.

The repository will be located deep underground in a suitable rock formation, which must meet site selection technical criteria for the development of a robust safety case. This approach is consistent with international best practice, and is the culmination of more than 30 years of research, development, and demonstration of technologies and techniques.

The repository uses multiple barriers that include the waste form, container, sealing materials, and host rock. The system is designed such that the failure of one component would not jeopardize the safety of the containment system as a whole.

The project will also be subject to a thorough regulatory review process, including an environmental assessment and a licensing review to ensure that it is implemented in a manner that protects people and the environment.

Once placed in the repository, the used nuclear fuel will be monitored for an extended period of time.

Safety: Protecting People and the EnvironmentMultiple-Barrier System

More about Environment, Safety and Security, Project Facilities, Radiation

How will a central site be chosen?


Last updated 10/18/2016

Since 2010, we have been engaged in a multi-year, community-driven process to identify a site (Site Selection) where Canada’s used nuclear fuel can be safely contained and isolated in a deep geological repository.

Potential siting areas are identified and assessed in a series of steps that began when communities formally expressed interest in learning more.

The safety and appropriateness of any potential site will be assessed against a number of factors, both technical and social in nature.

The process is community driven. It is designed to ensure, above all, that the site selected is safe and secure, and has an informed and willing host. The process must meet the highest scientific, professional and ethical standards.

About the ProcessSite RequirementsSteps in the Process

More about Site Selection, Public Engagement

How does the NWMO involve people in implementing the plan?


Last updated 10/18/2016

Collaboration with both experts and the public is key to the design of Canada's plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel, and is at the heart of the plan's implementation. We have involved and will continue to involve people throughout the process in the implementation of the plan by:

  • Soliciting input from the public and specialists during the design of the site selection process;
  • Carrying out a community-driven site selection process that involves interested host communities in decision-making at every step, including the planning and implementation of all technical and social assessments and work;
  • Collaboratively engaging in dialogue with the interested community, First Nation and Métis communities, and surrounding municipalities about potential sites and the implementation of the project; and
  • Responding to the views, questions and concerns of others who are most likely to be affected by the implementation of the project, including those potentially affected by the transportation of used nuclear fuel.

We will also provide forms of assistance to interested communities and others potentially affected so they can participate in the process.

About the ProcessA Collaborative ApproachGuiding Principles

More about APM, Public Engagement, Site Selection

Can used nuclear fuel be transported safely?


Last updated 10/18/2016

Transportation of radioactive material is a well-established practice. Over 50 years, there have been more than 20,000 shipments worldwide of used nuclear fuel, using road, rail and water transport. Canada has proven, and continues to demonstrate, its ability to safely transport used fuel, with hundreds of shipments made since the 1960s.


More about Transportation

Looking for something else?

Ask a Question