Canadian Standards Association review of dry storage of nuclear fuel waste (December 2012)

According to a December notice distributed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the Canadian Standards Association – the folks that set standards to  make sure your toasters don’t catch fire and the threads on the bolt will match the threads on the nut – are  now the lead agency for developing a standard for dry storage for the highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste generated by nuclear power reactors.

The notice from the CNSC states:

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is a membership association serving industry, government, consumers and other interested parties in Canada and the global marketplace. Many CSA energy standards are national standards of Canada and are cited in both federal and provincial regulations. In addition to providing energy standards, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) also helps to promote a safe and reliable nuclear power industry in Canada through the creation of specific nuclear industry standards.

The CSA is currently seeking your input on a new draft standard relating to the nuclear industry on interim dry storage systems for irradiated fuel.

If you would like to consult and provide comments on this proposed standard, please go to:


According to the current draft, the standard will  specify “requirements for the site selection, design, construction, commissioning, operation, and planning for decommissioning of dry storage systems.  Dry storage systems include facilities, structures, support services, and equipment required for 

(a)    transferring irradiated fuel

(i)     from wet storage to dry storage containers; and
(ii)    to a dry storage facility;
(b)   processing;
(c)    storage of irradiated fuel;
(d)   monitoring;
(e)    retrieval of irradiated fuel from dry storage; and
(f)    decommissioning planning.

If you are interested in working with other public interest groups participating in this review, please contact

“Infrastructure” proposals really nuclear dumps (December 2012)

by Penney Kome, Straight Goods

From December 3 – 5,  the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is holding hearings in Courtice, Ontario, with an unprecedented three different items on the agenda. The meetings had to be postponed from September because of the number of intervenors. Ninety groups or individuals will present in person; at least as many have submitted written presentations.

Northwatch researcher Brennain Lloyd talks about issues now before the CNSC.

In this exclusive SGN video interview, Brennain Lloyd of Northwatch describes the issues and dynamics involved with these hearings. Intervenors have ten minutes to address:

  • re-licensing the Darlington nuclear reactor;
  • re-licensing a high-level (fuel grade) waste facility; and
  • a proposal to refurbish Darlington.

For many environmental groups, the radioactive waste issue is urgent. Currently, the wastes are “imperfectly stored” at the reactor station, said Lloyd.  She cited a decades-long hunt for the perfect geological formation that would isolate fuel waste in perpetuity. Now the regulators have abandoned that hunt, and “any rock will do.”  One proposal is to bury low and medium level wastes deep below the surface of the Bruce generating station, on the shore of Lake Huron.

As well, the CNSC [KNW note: this reference should be to the NWMO] has invited Ontario small cities and townships to participate in a “National Infrastructure Project” – otherwise known as a nuclear dump – advertised as being worth $16 – 24 billion.  Twenty-one communities have agreed to be studied as potentially the site for high-level nuclear waste – mostly without the local people knowing anything about it.

Lloyd said that the CNSC [KNW note: this reference should be to the NWMO] is trying to reassure municipal councils that the radioactive material decomposes over time, so that eventually there will be no radioactivity left. Two key factors are omitted from presentations, however. The first is that decomposition can take centuries, if not millennia. The second is that decomposition means the radioactivity is leaving the material – and potentially going into the local air and water.

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CNSC battling confusion over DGR projects (November 2012)

Monday, November 19, 2012 3:11:36 EST PM

Aurele Gervais, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
(As posted on the Lucknow Sentinel)

The topic of what to do for the long-term management of radioactive waste in Canada has generated much discussion.

But at the same time, there is a lot of confusion about two very different projects that are currently underway: the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) Deep Geologic Repository Project and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) Adaptive Phased Management (APM) Project.

Both of these projects consider the use of a geological repository for long-term management of radioactive waste.

Geological repositories are constructed underground, usually at a depth of several hundred metres or more below ground surface to isolate waste in a stable rock formation.

Projects like these go through a rigorous regulatory review process which includes an environmental assessment and licensing. This process will involve the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Canada’s independent nuclear regulator. The public will have several opportunities to input into the process before any licence is considered.

Different nuclear waste – different regulatory stages

The OPG DGR Project

The OPG Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) Project will only be for low- and intermediate- level radioactive waste (L&ILW) from OPG-owned or operated nuclear generating stations in Ontario.

The waste will be from things like tools, mop heads, rags, paper towels, filters, resins, refurbishment waste and other radioactive contaminated materials from nuclear generating stations. The proposed location for this repository is close to OPG’s Western Waste Management Facility at the Bruce nuclear site in Kincardine, Ontario.

The DGR Project does not include used nuclear fuel.

The regulatory process for the DGR Project started in December 2005 when OPG submitted a project description to the CNSC outlining its intent to construct a geological repository for L&ILW. Since then, the CNSC’s technical experts and an independent Joint Review Panel (JRP), appointed in January 2012, have been reviewing the DGR Project’s environmental assessment and licence application. JRP public hearings for the DGR Project will be held in the Municipality of Kincardine, dates for the hearings have not yet been set.

The APM Project

The other initiative, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) Adaptive Phased Management (APM) Project is for the safe long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel. The NWMO was established in 2002 in accordance with Canada’s Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA) and is responsible to implement this project.

The process for the APM Project is still in its very early stages. In May 2010, the NWMO launched its site selection process to identify a willing and informed community to host a geological repository for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel. As of September 30, 2012, a total of 21 communities have formally expressed interest in learning more about the APM Project.

It’s important to note no licence application has been submitted to the CNSC for the APM Project. However, it is an international best practice for the regulator – the CNSC in this case – to be involved early in these types of projects. The CNSC is providing regulatory guidance and is conducting pre-project design reviews of geological repository concepts.

The CNSC also makes presentations to various communities who have expressed an interest to know how the nuclear sector is regulated in Canada, as well as the CNSC’s early role in the APM Project.

Canada’s Nuclear Regulator
The CNSC mandate is to ensure that nuclear activities are done in a manner that protects the environment, as well as the health, safety and security of workers and the public, and to implement Canada’s international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Nuclear safety is the CNSC’s focus.


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