Know Nuclear Waste 

KEY POINTS

  • Nuclear waste from reactors is extremely hazardous now and for hundreds of thousands of years. The radioactive and chemical hazards will outlast the containers and, over time, the wastes - which even the nuclear industry agrees must be strictly isolated from the environment - will be released.
  • Transportation of nuclear fuel waste will come with its own set of hazards and risks. The practice is relatively unknown in Canada, and the few incidents of highly radio-active nuclear fuel waste being transported in Canada are not comparable to the frequency and volume of transportation that would be required to move all of Canada’s nuclear fuel waste to a single location. There are risks of accident, but there are also concerns with the transport of the fuel under “normal” conditions.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization calls their plan to bury nuclear waste deep underground "Adaptive Phased Management". The key elements of the plan is to place the highly radiaoctive nuclear fuel waste in copper containers which would in turn be placed in a series of rooms in a repository constructed approximately 500 metres below the surface in a rock formation.  This is an approach that has been favoured by the nuclear industry in several countries for many years, but no country has yet approved, constructed and begun operating a similar facility.

A public interest information project about nuclear waste burial in Canada.

Download our bilingual leaflet: NuclearWaste-need-to-know.pdf

  • The concept of burying nuclear waste failed an environmental assessment review in Canada.  The NWMO’s “Adaptive Phased Management” is based on Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s 1988 “concept” of burying nuclear waste in the Canadian Shield. After a ten year review – which included 13 months of public hearings – the review panel concluded in 1998 that the AECL concept had not been demonstrated to be safe and acceptable.
  • Many countries are studying the idea or burying nuclear waste, and have been doing so for 30 years. But no one has done it. The NWMO says that their proposal is similar to that of many other countries, but no other country has actually built, approved and begun to use such a facility.