Early regulatory involvement in a deep geological repository initiative for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel

Abstract of the technical paper presented at:
3rd Canadian Conference on Nuclear Waste Management, Decommissioning and Environmental Restoration, Ottawa, ON
Date: September 11-14, 2016

Prepared by:
J.L. Mecke, K. Noble, and J.L. Brown
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission


Canada’s independent nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), is responsible for licensing geological repositories intended to safely manage radioactive waste, including used nuclear fuel, over the long-term. At the siting phase for a deep geological repository (DGR) for used nuclear fuel in Canada, regulatory involvement includes outreach activities, pre-licensing reviews of conceptual designs and post-closure safety assessments for two hypothetical sites in different host rock types (crystalline and sedimentary), international collaborations and an independent research program. This paper will focus on three elements:

  1. The CNSC’s early role while site selection is ongoing. At this stage, the initiative is still outside of the CNSC’s formal licensing structure. Regulatory involvement is set out in a service agreement between the CNSC and the implementer (the Nuclear Waste Management Organization), and follows international best practice.
  2. Relationship building with the public and Aboriginal peoples. This includes encouraging and supporting the involvement of stakeholders in the regulatory process. The CNSC meets with communities who have expressed interest in learning more about our regulatory role.
  3. The dissemination of objective scientific information, including CNSC’s independent research program. The CNSC expects the geology under consideration to possess favourable natural characteristics that in combination with engineered barriers would ensure safety over the long term post-closure period, and during project implementation. CNSC’s independent research program focusses on topics needed to verify arguments in favour of long-term safety.

To obtain a copy of the abstract’s document, please contact us at cnsc.info.ccsn@cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca or call 613.995.5894 or 1.800.668.5284 (in Canada). When contacting us, please provide the title and date of the abstract.

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