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Is used nuclear fuel currently transported in Canada or other countries?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

Canada has proven and continues to demonstrate its ability to transport used nuclear fuel with hundreds of shipments made since the 1960s. In Canada, three to five shipments of used nuclear fuel are transported by road each year. 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.

Internationally and in Canada, there have been no serious injuries, health effects, fatalities, or environmental consequences attributable to the radioactive nature of the used nuclear fuel being transported.

TransportationHow are radioactive materials being transported now in Canada? How is used fuel transported in other countries?

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How are radioactive materials transported in Canada? In other countries?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

On a yearly basis, approximately one million packages of radioactive materials are transported in Canada. Most shipments are by road, including about three to five shipments of used fuel per year. The used fuel is shipped from a nuclear generating station to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s Chalk River Laboratories for research and post-irradiation examination.

In the United States, nearly 3,000 shipments of commercial used fuel have been moved more than 2.5 million kilometres during the last 40 years, most over roads and some by rail. The United Kingdom and France transport a combined average of 550 shipments of high-level radioactive waste every year, primarily by rail. Sweden makes approximately 40 shipments per year by water, while Japan has made approximately 200 shipments by water.

International ExperienceIs used nuclear fuel currently transported in Canada or other countries?

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Are upgrades required to transportation infrastructure? If so, who pays?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

Any requirement for infrastructure improvements can only be confirmed once a potential site for a repository is identified.

For a potential site to be considered technically feasible for a repository site, safe, secure routes for transporting used nuclear fuel from interim storage facilities in Canada to the repository site are a requirement. Transportation infrastructure must already exist or be possible to develop. We will need to demonstrate to regulatory authorities the safety and security of the transportation system before the shipments of used fuel can begin.

We would fund local infrastructure improvements needed to assure safety. Any such improvements would need to be undertaken before we could proceed with transportation activities. Any infrastructure improvements would be subject to discussion and negotiation with the appropriate agencies.

Transportation Planning

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What sort of planning will there be for transportation security?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

We will develop and submit a transportation security plan to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission as part of the application for a licence to transport used nuclear fuel.

The plan’s primary purpose is to ensure used nuclear fuel will receive adequate physical protection against any credible threat that may arise during transport. Risks are continually reassessed to ensure that security measures are appropriate for specific circumstances.

The transportation security plan must meet the requirements of the Nuclear Security Regulations.

Transportation Planning

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What sorts of security measures will be in place during shipments?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

Security measures are put in place to assure the used nuclear fuel to be transported will receive adequate physical protection against any credible threats. These measures include agreements with different levels of law enforcement.

Shipments of used nuclear fuel will be continuously monitored by a transportation command centre and will have a security escort.

Transportation Planning

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What if a community on the route doesn't have emergency responders?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

The NWMO will provide an emergency response plan to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Transport Canada and the provinces. We will co-ordinate our planning with the provinces to provide training and conduct exercises along the designated routes.

Transportation PlanningTransportation Regulations and Oversight

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Who can answer questions and concerns from communities along potential transportation routes?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

As the multi-year site selection process continues to advance, we will welcome communities as a group along the transportation route to raise questions or concerns to be addressed in the process.

TransportationPublic Engagement

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What are the procedures if there is an accident during transportation?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

In Canada, the emergency management community has adopted a standard approach for responding to accidents, regulated under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act.

Federal, provincial and local governments use a comprehensive approach to emergency management, which includes having in place measures for prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and response and restoration activities for all modes of transportation. We will follow this process.

Transportation Regulations and Oversight

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Who is involved to ensure a plan is in place for transportation incidents?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

The purpose of the emergency response plan is to ensure co-ordination among the NWMO, provincial and local first responders, leaders of affected communities, and federal agencies. Provincial governments, and local administrations and authorities are responsible for response services. Federal organizations may provide additional resources at the request of the province or municipality.

A safe and secure transportation program has many elements, including training and joint drills and exercises with provincial and local emergency responders. In the interest of ensuring maximum safety, we are committed to robust emergency preparedness. Response plans and procedures are rigorously tested through multi-layered training, inter-agency communications, process and joint exercises.

Transportation Planning

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How will the used fuel bundles be transferred from transportation containers to the underground containers?

Response

Last updated 10/18/2016

The used nuclear fuel bundles will arrive at the used fuel packaging plant (UFPP) in transportation containers. The UFPP will be designed to receive and repackage used nuclear fuel into long-lived, corrosion-resistant used fuel containers (UFCs) for placement in the repository.

Fuel bundles will be transferred from transportation containers into UFCs using remote-controlled equipment in protected areas called "hot cells". Workers will work behind shielded walls to perform the various processing steps necessary for fuel transfer, and UFC assembly and inspection.

Shielded frames on automated guide vehicles will move the used fuel containers within the packaging plant to the various processing stations. These processing stations include:

  • A closure weld station to seal the lid to the used fuel container;
  • A weld machining station to machine the weld area smooth on the container;
  • A weld inspection station;
  • A copper cold spray station to apply copper over the closure weld;
  • A copper coating inspection station; and
  • A non-destructive testing station to ensure the requirements of the container are met for placement in the repository.

Once the containers have been inspected to ensure they do not have any unacceptable defects or features, they are moved to a storage cell for filled containers before going to a dispatch hall for transfer to the repository. 

TransportationSurface FacilitiesSafe Containment

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