Is there enough bentonite clay to meet the needs of the APM deep geological repository?

Response

Last updated 4/20/2018

Yes. There is enough bentonite clay available to meet the needs of the Adaptive Phased Management (APM) deep geological repository, as well as other used fuel repositories being planned around the world.

Bentonite clay is one of the barriers within the deep geological repository that will isolate used fuel from humans and the environment in the long term. It is a natural material that swells when exposed to water, making it an excellent sealing material. It is also very stable, as seen in natural formations formed millions to hundreds of millions of years ago.

Bentonite clay is available in many countries around the world.

It is estimated that the APM deep geological repository would consume one to two per cent of the annual capacity in North America.

Worldwide, deep geological repositories that are planned or expected will only consume about five to six per cent of the global bentonite supply.

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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.

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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.

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