Forum: Waste storage facilities

In Canada, all radioactive waste is currently managed in interim storage facilities that are safe, secure, and environmentally sound. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission licenses and regulates monitors Canada’s waste management facilities to ensure they are operated safely.

The method of storage for radioactive waste can differ greatly depending on the radioactivity and heat generation of the waste.

The storage of radioactive waste must ensure that both human health and the environment will be protected, now and in the future, without imposing undue burdens on future generations.

Before you participate in the discussion, read the radioactive waste engagement site comment and moderation guidelines.

Tell us what you think

Responsive image

1. What are your views on how radioactive waste is currently stored in Canada?

Responsive image

2. What should be the role of Government, the regulator, and waste owners with respect to radioactive waste storage?

Read the discussion paper (PDF, 682 kb)

Join the discussion forum: Waste storage facilities

Include the question in the subject field below before you submit your comment.

If you’d rather submit your comments to our inbox, fill out this form.

Comment Sort


Ole Hendrickson's picture

It is a stretch to characterize waste storage at the federal government's Chalk River Labs (CRL) as safe and environmentally sound. The 2019 Annual Compliance Monitoring Report for CRL describes in considerable detail the radioactive groundwater contaminant plumes at CRL and their monitoring and treatment systems. To summarize briefly, in the Perch Lake basin, strontium-90 plumes from the Liquid Dispersal Area and Waste Management Areas A and B require continuing operation of three groundwater treatment systems. In the Maskinonge Lake basin, a “Wall and Curtain” passive groundwater treatment facility intercepts and treats the strontium-90 plume arising from the Nitrate Plant. Contaminant plumes from the NRX and NRU reactor facilities (he fuel bays) were for years leaking tritium and strontium-90. The resulting contaminant plumes now discharge directly into the Ottawa River untreated.

The federal government should move the sources of these radioactive contaminant plumes into secure long-term storage facilities, away from the river.

Furthermore, the federal government should establish a set of principles for waste storage. A starting point could be the following nine fundamental principles of radioactive waste management of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Principle 1: Protection of human health: Radioactive waste shall be managed in such a way as to secure an acceptable level of protection for human health.
Principle 2: Protection of the environment: Radioactive waste shall be managed in such a way as to provide an acceptable level of protection of the environment.
Principle 3: Protection beyond national borders: Radioactive waste shall be managed in such a way as to assure that possible effects on human health and the environment beyond national borders will be taken into account.
Principle 4: Protection of future generations: Radioactive waste shall be managed in such a way that predicted impacts on the health of future generations will not be greater than relevant levels of impact that are acceptable today.
Principle 5: Burdens on future generations: Radioactive waste shall be managed in such a way that will not impose undue burdens on future generations.
Principle 6: National legal framework: Radioactive waste shall be managed within an appropriate national legal framework including clear allocation of responsibilities and provision for independent regulatory functions.
Principle 7: Control of radioactive waste generation: Generation of radioactive waste shall be kept to the minimum practicable.
Principle 8: Radioactive waste generation and management interdependencies: Interdependencies among all steps in radioactive waste generation and management shall be appropriately taken into account.
Principle 9: Safety of facilities: The safety of facilities for radioactive waste management shall be appropriately assured during their lifetime.

  • Like this comment 1
  • Dislike this comment 1
Gilles Provost's picture
Dec 14, 2020 - 14:42

Votre document d’information explique comment le Canada entrepose ses "déchets de faible activité à longue durée de vie".
Ces propos sont absurdes car un déchet de faible activité est PAR DÉFINITION un déchet radioactif qui contient très peu de radionucléides à longue durée de vie.

En vertu de la nouvelle définition canadienne adoptée le 18 juin dernier par la Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire (CSST), un déchet radioactif peut être dit de faible activité à DEUX CONDITIONS:
a) il doit contenir très peu de radionucléides à longue durée de vie
b) il doit être permis de l'éliminer dans un site près de la surface.

Oui, vous avez bien lu : Il n’est plus nécessaire que sa radioactivité soit faible et qu’on puisse, par exemple, le manipuler à main nue.

Cette nouvelle définition figure à l’article 7.1 du REGDOC 2.11.1 que les commissaires ont adopté à leur réunion du 18 juin et le secrétariat de la CSST m’a fait parvenir leur procès-verbal le 21 septembre. Le secrétariat ma aussi assuré que la version officielle de ce règlement serait publiée « dans les plus brefs délais ». Nous arrivons à Noël et cela n’a toujours pas été fait.

  • Like this comment 0
  • Dislike this comment 1
Andrew Thomson's picture
Dec 31, 2020 - 12:46

There should be no case where nuclear plant refurbishment or new SME plants should be considered without a full cost accounting of the related DWR (Deep Waste Repositories) required for the indefinite storage of both current and existing spent fuels and contaminated materials. One need only look to the deep waste repositories in Germany for an example of what is required (in 1.4km deep, geologically stable basaltic). Placing surface storage in an active seismic zone on the headwaters of the principal drinking water reserves of major cities and even smaller municipalities is incredibly short-sighted. As an architect deeply involved in the technical adjudication of large commercial buildings, we can deliver projects with upwards of 75% reductions in total energy use. We do not need to continually refer to the necessity of powering a low-carbon future with nuclear - as conservation and DSM csot as little as 1/10th the cost of new generation capacity - even without factoring in waste storage facilities. WWS (Wind Water and Solar) combined with massive reductions on demand-side should have an absolute priority over costly nuclear solutions - the problem is the entrenched nuclear lobby and knowingly corrupt players (SNC to name but one). Get out of the game of hot garbage grift Canada - take a lead on the issue and find a way out of this mess. From a citizen with a property and business on the Ottawa River.

  • Like this comment 0
  • Dislike this comment 1
Matthew Mairinger's picture
Feb 7, 2021 - 09:46

I largely agree with the policy as written - I believe it makes sense to keep the spent fuel (HLW) at the generation sites since these sites already have a security presence onsite and the building footprint for HLW is a small portion of the overall site. Furthermore, it makes sense to keep the HLW onsite rather than spending the resources to transport to a different interim storage facility - keeping it close to the site of production also makes transportation easier, more cost effective, and safer. My only question is in regards to SMRs/MMRs - in this case should there be a provision added in the policy in which these would be stored in a centralized location? For these reactor designs since they are smaller in size the supporting infrastructure and personnel are much smaller so it may make sense to store the "spent fuel" in a centralized location.

I'd encourage those not familiar with spent nuclear fuel to do some research and you would be amazed to learn that spent nuclear fuel is composed of solid ceramic (UO2) fuel pellets which look almost identical to the fresh UO2 fuel and workers standing next to the concrete/MACSTOR/dry storage contains receive dose rates well below regulatory limits.

I'd recommend that NRCan to continue with the Adaptive Phase management which utilizes storage rather than direct disposal as the Gen 4/breeder reactors and future designs will be able to utilize the "spent fuel" as feedstock and directly burying "spent fuel" (which still contains a large amount of usable energy) would just lead to extra resourced needed in the future to retrieve the direct disposal fuel.

  • Like this comment 0
  • Dislike this comment 0

Add new comment