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How does Canada's plan compare to what others in the world are doing?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

Canada’s approach is consistent with best practice around the world. Almost all countries with commercial nuclear power production are planning to isolate their used nuclear fuel, or the high-level waste by-products from reprocessing their fuel, in a deep geological repository.

Studies conducted around the world have concluded used nuclear fuel and high-level waste should be contained and isolated in a deep geological repository. There is a consensus among major nuclear regulatory and monitoring organizations that repositories are the responsible way forward.

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Does the plan include managing waste from other countries?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

No. The Nuclear Fuel Waste Act establishes a mandate for the NWMO to manage Canada’s used nuclear fuel. Adaptive Phased Management was developed collaboratively with Canadians to meet this mandate. The plan was recommended by the NWMO and approved by the Government of Canada on this basis.

About Adaptive Phased Management

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What happens to the plan if technology changes before it's fully implemented?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

Canada's plan, by design, is flexible and adaptive so that it can be responsive to advances in technical learning, international best practices, ongoing input from the public, insight from Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge, changes in public policy, and evolving societal expectations and values. The implementation of Adaptive Phased Management will span many decades. Because of the timelines involved, it includes numerous opportunities to refine and adjust plans.

The ability of the plan to adjust to change, if appropriate, was a common objective, which emerged from a three-year dialogue with thousands of Canadians about a plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel.

Many wanted the plan to provide flexibility for future generations to shape decisions as the plan is implemented over several decades. Many also emphasized the importance of designing the repository in a way that allows for the retrieval of used nuclear fuel in order to take advantage of the development of new technologies.

We are committed to continuous learning to inform decision-making at each step along the way.

About Adaptive Phased ManagementWhy This Approach?

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Is life or house insurance harder to get in communities with nuclear facilities?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

Coverage for nuclear incidents is excluded in all insurance policies in Canada regardless of whether there are nuclear facilities in a community.

This is because coverage for damage or injury resulting from a release of radioactivity falls under the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act (NLCA).
Under the NLCA, we would be liable for damage or injury resulting from the unlikely event of a release of radioactivity from our facility once it is constructed and licensed to operate.

The current Act requires a licencee to carry a prescribed amount of insurance to ensure that compensation is available for any such release. For claims that exceed that amount, the NLCA provides for a process under which the federal government would address such claims.

Can radiation leak from the underground repository?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

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 will need to demonstrate with confidence that it can be safely implemented at the site and can meet or surpass the requirements of the regulatory authorities.

Multiple-Barrier SystemSafety: Protecting People and the EnvironmentDemonstrating Safety

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How will the project affect property values in the area?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

We expect that the value of properties will increase with the implementation of the project. However, site-specific studies need to be conducted.

This question will be addressed over the next few years as part of well-being studies that the NWMO and communities will complete together in siting areas. These well-being studies will examine potential effects.

These studies will also explore processes and procedures that could be put in place as part of the implementation of the project to manage any negative effects, should these occur, and to ensure community objectives in this area are met. For instance, a Property Value Protection Program could be implemented.

About the Process

How long will it take to implement Canada's plan?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

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

We estimate timelines for planning purposes. Actual timelines will depend on a number of factors. These include the time it takes to identify a suitable site and the time needed to obtain regulatory approvals.

For financial planning purposes only, 2035 was identified as the earliest a repository could begin operating. We will continue to update financial planning assumptions from time to time as new information is available. Actual timelines may vary, as it is important to take the time needed to confirm safety and move at a pace at which communities wish to proceed.

Once operations begin, moving used fuel into the facility could take about 40 years, depending on how much there is to manage. There will be an extended monitoring period following placement of the used nuclear fuel.

About the ProjectAbout the Process

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How does the NWMO report its progress?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

We are subject to the requirements of the Nuclear Waste Fuel Act (NFWA) and oversight by the Minister of Natural Resources Canada.

We submit annual and triennial reports to the Minister of Natural Resources Canada, who tables the reports in Parliament. The NWMO's reports are made public at the same time they are submitted to the minister.

How We're Governed

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If the NWMO ceased to exist in the future, who would look after the used nuclear fuel?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

The safety of the repository does not rely on human institutions and intervention after the repository is closed. In the event the NWMO ceased to exist, the waste would be safely managed by the repository's multiple-barrier system in what is called a passive management system.

Canada's plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel involves the construction of a deep geological repository and associated facilities. Any site selected for the repository must be able to safely contain and isolate the used fuel for many hundreds of thousands of years, basically indefinitely. Working together, man-made and natural barriers in the geology will ensure the safety of the environment and public.

Multiple-Barrier System

More about Used Nuclear Fuel, Environment, Safety and Security

What is the NWMO?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is a not-for-profit organization established in 2002 by Canada's nuclear electricity producers (Ontario Power Generation, New Brunswick Power and Hydro-Québec) as directed by the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA), which came into force November 15, 2002.

We were created with a mandate to develop an approach for the long-term care of Canada’s used nuclear fuel and to implement it after the approach was approved by the federal government. We developed this approach, called Adaptive Phased Management (APM) through an innovative and wide-ranging program of dialogue with scientists, experts in a wide range of disciplines, and interested Canadians across the country.

Who We AreOur CommitmentAbout Adaptive Phased Management

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