There are strict requirements to ensure that radiation does not leak from the underground repository, and that people and the environment are protected. The project cannot proceed without meeting these strict requirements.
Canada's plan for the long-term care of used nuclear fuel involves containing and isolating the used fuel in a deep geological repository. A multiple-barrier system of engineered and natural barriers will ensure ongoing safety to the public and workers over the long term:
- Nuclear fuel pellet
- Fuel element and fuel bundle
- Used nuclear fuel container
- Bentonite clay
- Geosphere – host rock for the repository
Each of these barriers provides a layer of protection so that if the performance of one degrades or is compromised, other barriers will still contain and isolate the used nuclear fuel.
The regulatory review of the repository will require a number of safety assessments which look at a wide range of scenarios to ensure people and the environment are protected. "Disruptive scenarios" are conducted to test a range of hypothetical circumstances such as what is the impact of container failure at 10,000 or 60,000 years or the failure of the seals within the repository shafts.
The safety case for the project must demonstrate with confidence that it will meet or surpass the stringent requirements of the regulatory authorities.
Multiple-Barrier SystemSafety: Protecting People and the EnvironmentDemonstrating Safety
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