Search Results
1 to 10 of 21 Q&As See featured Q&As

What is Adaptive Phased Management?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

Adaptive Phased Management (APM) is Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel.

It is both a technical method and a management system, with an emphasis on adaptability. It is designed to meet rigorous safety standards in all aspects of its design and implementation.

The end point of the technical method is the centralized containment and isolation of Canada's used nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository in an area with suitable geology and an informed and willing host. APM also involves the development of a transportation system to move the used fuel from the facilities where it is currently stored to the new site.

The management system involves realistic, manageable phases, each marked by explicit decision points. It allows for flexibility in the pace and manner of implementation, and fosters the sustained engagement of people and communities throughout its implementation.

As part of Canada's plan, we are seeking an informed and willing host for the facility. In addition to extensive technical assessments, the site selection process involves extensive learning and dialogue with communities before a preferred site can be identified.

A fundamental tenet of APM is the incorporation of new knowledge. We will adapt plans in response to advances in technical learning, international best practices, ongoing input of the public, insight from Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge, changes in public policy, and evolving societal expectations and values.

About Adaptive Phased ManagementDeep Geological RepositorySite Selection Process

More about APM

What approaches were considered for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

Canada's plan emerged from a three-year dialogue with experts and the public. As the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA) required, we compared benefits, risks and costs of three technical methods:

  • Deep geological disposal in the Canadian Shield
  • Centralized storage above or below ground
  • Storage at reactor sites
  • Each of these approaches had strengths and limitations.
Each of these approaches had strengths and limitations.

This led Canadians involved in the dialogue to identify another approach called Adaptive Phased Management (APM). APM incorporates the objectives people said were important, including safety, fairness, community well-being and the need to be adaptive and environmentally responsible.

As part of this dialogue, we also reviewed methods that had received international attention, such as recycling or reusing used nuclear fuel through reprocessing; deep borehole placement; and the concept of an international repository.These options were not considered viable for Canada.

We explored several methods of limited interest, such as disposal at sea, in ice sheets or in space. These methods are not being implemented anywhere in the world and are not part of any national research and development plan. The concepts are not proven, and some go against international conventions.

As part of our commitment to incorporate new learning and knowledge as we implement Canada's plan, we keep a watching brief on the development of reprocessing used nuclear fuel and other alternative used nuclear fuel management technologies.

Selecting APM: A Three-Year StudyDiscussion Document: Understanding the ChoicesAssessment Team Report

More about APM

Why does Canada need a plan for used nuclear fuel?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

For decades, Canadians have been using electricity generated by nuclear power reactors in Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec.
When used nuclear fuel is removed from a reactor, it remains a potential health risk for many hundreds of thousands of years and must be safely isolated from people and the environment essentially indefinitely.

Today, Canada’s used nuclear fuel is safely stored on an interim basis at licensed facilities located where it is produced.

Like many other countries with nuclear power programs, Canada is planning for the future – beyond today’s interim storage.

Ensuring the long-term, safe and secure management of used nuclear fuel is an important responsibility we as Canadians share. Canadians have emphasized that safety and security are the top priority now and in the future, and that this generation must assume active responsibility for putting in place a plan for the long-term stewardship of used nuclear fuel.

About Adaptive Phased ManagementWhy This Approach?

More about APM

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.

More about APM

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

More about APM

Why can't the waste stay where it is?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

Canada's used nuclear fuel is now safely stored in storage pools or dry storage containers in licensed facilities at the reactor sites. This arrangement is considered interim and was not meant to be permanent. Because used nuclear fuel remains a potential health risk for many hundreds of thousands of years, it must be safely isolated from people and the environment essentially indefinitely.

Like many other countries with nuclear power programs, Canada is planning for the future – beyond today's interim storage. The public said clearly during the NWMO study period that our generation, which has benefited from nuclear power, must put in place a long-term management approach for used fuel and not leave it as a legacy for future generations. Canada's plan for safely managing used nuclear fuel over the very long term was designed and recommended on that basis.

Canada's approach is consistent with best practice around the world. Almost all countries with commercial nuclear power production are planning to isolate the waste byproduct of their nuclear fuel cycle in a deep geological repository.

Canada's Used Nuclear FuelAbout Adaptive Phased Management

More about APM, Used Nuclear Fuel, Transportation

How was Canada's plan for used nuclear fuel developed?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

Adaptive Phased Management emerged from a three-year study the NWMO led from 2002 to 2005. The study engaged thousands of citizens, specialists and Aboriginal peoples in every province and territory as a range of management options were assessed. The plan draws on more than 30 years of research, development and demonstration of technologies and techniques in Canada and elsewhere. It is in line with best international practice and has been designed to meet the expectations expressed by Canadians throughout the study.


About Adaptive Phased Management

More about APM

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

More about APM

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?

More about APM

What happens to the plan if new nuclear plants are built?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

Future decisions about nuclear power generation made by provincial governments, nuclear plant operators and regulators may result in a larger inventory of used nuclear fuel. For instance, the lives of existing reactors might be extended through additional refurbishment. Provincial governments may also decide to build new nuclear plants.

The specific amount of used fuel to be placed in the repository for long-term management will be agreed with the community using the best information available at the time, and through an open and transparent engagement process involving surrounding communities and others who are interested and potentially affected.

Regulatory review processes and approvals, which are required by law before the facility can be constructed and operated, will be based on a specific fuel inventory and will also involve an open and transparent consultation process.

How Much Is There?

More about APM, Used Nuclear Fuel

1 to 10 of 21 Q&As


Looking for something else?

Ask a Question