Safe Long-Term Storage

Safe Long-Term Storage

Nuclear energy has been safely and reliably powering Ontario with emissions-free electricity for decades. This vital energy source powers communities, strengthens the economy and improves lives around the world by producing medical isotopes to protect our food supply and to fight cancer.

Nuclear energy is an emissions-free source of electricity that plays a key role in Canada’s efforts to combat climate change.

To continue to meet these responsibilities in a changing world, the Canadian nuclear industry is constantly innovating with new technologies. The advancement of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) offers the potential to benefit remote Canadian communities, while nuclear propulsion is being developed to help power deep space exploration.

Refurbishment projects at Darlington and Bruce Power are extending the life of those sites into the future, which will help power the province for years to come and set the stage for continued innovations in the production of life-saving medical isotopes.

The nuclear industry has achieved much success, and it will continue to make a positive impact on our future. Canada is taking action now with a plan for the safe and responsible long-term storage of used nuclear fuel. Many questions are being asked. We have the answers.

A photograph of two fuel handlers working above the Secondary Fuel Bay.

Safely Storing Nuclear Materials

All forms of electricity production create by-products and materials. The burning of fossil fuels results in emissions to the air; and, for other energy systems, it often means that industrial waste is sent to landfill. The Canadian nuclear industry is the only energy sector to safely capture, monitor and store the by-products generated. In fact, Canada is considered a world leader in safe and environmentally sound nuclear material management.

Nuclear energy is unique, and with it comes a unique responsibility: to carefully manage the production of materials and the by-products (waste) generated.

Nuclear by-products such as used fuel and other materials require special care and protection, as they are radioactive and can stay radioactive for long periods of time.

Currently, the by-products at nuclear facilities are safely stored, managed and monitored under the strict control of skilled operators, all under the watchful eye of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to ensure regulatory compliance.

A photograph of a large fork lift vehicle inside an OPG waste storage facility that is used to lift the storage containers.

A Responsible Plan

While nuclear materials have been securely stored onsite above ground for many decades, the Canadian nuclear industry and numerous government agencies are taking steps to determine a lasting solution to store Canada’s used fuel.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), is leading the effort to plan for the safe, long-term storage of used nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository (DGR).

Following international best practice and scientific consensus, it will be a multi-generational project utilizing world-leading science and technology. Stored deep underground, the multiple-barrier system will withstand ice ages and natural events, shielded by rock to protect people and the environment for many thousands of years.

Many DGR projects are well advanced in countries such as FinlandSweden and the United States.

A photograph of some storage containers outside the Douglas Point Nuclear facility.

Powered by Communities

project will only be implemented with the involvement of an informed and willing host community.

The site selection process has narrowed the location to two sites: South Bruce in southern Ontario and the community of Ignace in the near north. Geologic discovery and scientific engineering are underway, along with a community engagement process to address concerns and to determine their own willingness process.

Building a repository deep underground while maintaining the safety of the environment and the community for thousands of years naturally raises questions and concerns. We are ready to provide science-based answers, encouraging community dialogue to reach consensus.

An aerial photograph of Saugeen Shores community with Bruce Power visible in the far background