Further studies for Ontario repository

18 April 2016

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has formally informed the Canadian government that it will complete further studies on its proposed deep geologic repository (DGR) for low- and intermediate-level nuclear wastes by the end of the year.

A federally appointed panel last year approved OPG's environmental assessment for the proposed repository at its Bruce site, which will be used for the disposal of low- and intermediate-level waste from the Bruce, Pickering and Darlington nuclear power plants. In February, the Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change requested that OPG carry out three further studies before making a decision on the environmental assessment for the proposed repository. A final ministerial decision had originally been expected in September 2015.

The first of the three studies requested by the ministry requires OPG to assess the environmental effects of two technical and economically feasible locations in Ontario for a new nuclear waste disposal facility. Similar DGRs will be considered in a sedimentary rock formation in southern Ontario and in a granite rock formation in central to northern Ontario, but the specific locations will not be identified.

The second study is an updated analysis of the cumulative environmental effects of the project, and the third study is a review of OPG's mitigation commitments and actions.

OPG currently stores its low-and intermediate-level wastes at the Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF), a surface facility on the Bruce nuclear site. The proposed DGR would provide permanent underground disposal for about 200,000 cubic metres of waste. The waste comprises contaminated industrial items from routine nuclear power plant operations, such as cleaning materials and protective clothing, used mechanical parts, ion exchange resins and filters.

OPG has been working towards the construction of the DGR, which would be located 680 metres below ground and provide permanent disposal for about 200,000 cubic metres of waste, since 2005. Preliminary designs for the facility were completed in 2010, and public hearings completed in 2014. Local communities "remain supportive" of the project, the company said.

"OPG maintains that a DGR is the right answer for Ontario's low and intermediate level waste, and that the Bruce site is the right location," the company said in a statement. "OPG is confident further studies will confirm this," it said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News