Safetly Storing Nuclear Materials

The Advantages of Nuclear

For decades, nuclear energy has been safely and reliably powering Ontario with clean, affordable electricity every day. This vital energy source powers communities and saves lives around the world by producing medical isotopes to protect our food supply and to fight cancer. Nuclear energy is a low-carbon source of electricity and is playing a key role when it comes to Canada’s efforts to combat climate change.

To continue to meet these responsibilities today and in the future, the Canadian nuclear industry is constantly evolving through ingenuity and innovation of modern technologies. The advancement of safer, more secure Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) offers the potential to benefit remote Canadian communities and nuclear propulsion is being developed to help power deep space exploration.

The nuclear industry has achieved much success but one challenge remains. How to safely and responsibly store the nuclear by-products for the long-term?

Learn more about the Advantages of Nuclear and life-saving medical Isotopes.

Safe Storage of Nuclear Materials

The production of electricity creates by-products and materials. The burning of fossil fuels results in emissions to the air; and, for other energy forms, it often means 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 has helped Canada achieve a clean, sustainable energy mix and has saved countless lives around the world yet these benefits are sometimes overshadowed by misconceptions around radiation and nuclear by-products.

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

Spent fuel (high-level waste) and nuclear by-products (low- and intermediate-level waste) require special care and protection as they are radioactive and can stay radioactive for long periods of time.

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

Guided by Science:
A Lasting Soution and Peace of Mind

While nuclear materials have been safely stored onsite above ground for many decades, the Canadian nuclear industry and numerous government agencies are taking the responsible step forward to determine a lasting solution to safely dispose and store Canada’s spent fuel.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), is helping to chart a course to bring peace of mind to Canadians by implementing a project plan for the safe, long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository.

Following international best-practices, it will be a multi-generational project utilizing world-leading science and technology, to plan and construct a deep geological repository. Buried deep underground inside a multiple-barrier system that can withstand ice ages and natural events, the spent fuel will be safely entombed to protect people and the environment for many thousands of years.

The safe, environmentally sound disposal of spent fuel with prolonged radioactivity deep underground is technically proven with scientific consensus. Many projects are well advanced in some countries such as Finland and Sweden.

To learn more about Canada’s efforts to find a lasting solution click here.

To discover international best practices visit IAEA

Powered by Communities

While technical feasibility assures the safety of people and the environment, the project still needs Indigenous peoples and community acceptance and 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 is underway, along with a community engagement process to address concerns and to determine their own unique “willingness” process.

Building a repository deep underground and maintaining the safety of the environment and the community for thousands of years raises a lot of questions and concerns. What if it fails? How to safely transport materials? What are the economic and social benefits? What will the potential future impact be to water, agriculture and human health? These are all valid questions the process will address through scientific discovery, engineered solutions, and community dialogue and consensus.

Join the Conversation.
Participate in the Process.

It is important to take the time to learn and understand the facts. To review the data, expand your knowledge and become engaged in the process.

This is an opportunity for Canadians to participate and have their say.

Facts, not fear; science, not myths; and a collaborative community engagement process will guide Canadians towards a lasting solution and peace of mind.

Learn about South Bruce’s efforts to determine how a willing community decides.

Visit Willing to Listen: a local community group committed to learning the facts and overcoming fears.

Learn about Ignace in the near north.

Discover new innovations in Nuclear at the Nuclear Innovation Institute.

To learn about the federal process, visit the NWMO.

Dig Deeper
Learn. Discover. Participate.

Want to stay informed and update? Subscribe here.