How long will it take to confirm a site for the deep geological repository?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

There is no fixed timeline. The NWMO will take the time needed to do it right.

The NWMO initiated the site selection process in May 2010. Site selection includes a number of steps, and individual communities will proceed through the process at a pace and in a manner that reflects their needs and preferences, and the time needed to complete the rigorous process of confirming safety.

To guide project planning, we have made assumptions about timing associated with the work we need to complete. Our current plans anticipate we may be in a position to select a preferred site for Step 4: Detailed Site Characterization Evaluation by about 2023. We will continue to update our best understanding of possible timelines as work advances and more information becomes available.

Over time and through increasingly detailed technical and social studies and engagement, it will become clearer which areas have the strongest potential to safely host the project.

  • The preferred site will be one that can safely contain and isolate used nuclear fuel, protecting people and the environment over the very long term.
  • The project must be implemented in a way that helps foster the well-being, or quality of life, in the area.
  • The project will only proceed with the involvement of the interested community, First Nation and Métis communities in the area, and surrounding communities working together to implement it.

About the Process

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Featured Questions



How will people and the environment be protected?

Response

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

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How will a central site be chosen?

Response

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

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How does the NWMO involve people in implementing the plan?

Response

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

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Can used nuclear fuel be transported safely?

Response

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.

Transportation

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