Long-term management of OPG’s low — and intermediate-level radioactive waste

Ontario Power Generation Inc. has recognized that, while its current approach to RAW storage is safe, secure, and environmentally sound, a new approach will be required for the long-term management. As described in Section 19.2.1, under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding, OPG and Kincardine engaged a consulting firm to conduct an independent assessment study (IAS) of the feasibility, safety, social and economic feasi­bility and the potential environmental effects of a proposed long-term management facility at the WWMF. Three options were studied: enhanced processing and storage, a covered above-ground concrete vault and a deep geologic repository. The IAS concluded that each of the options were fea­sible. The options could be constructed to meet international and Canadian safety standards with a high margin of safety. In April 2004, Kincardine Council passed a resolution to select the ‘Deep Rock Vault option as the preferred course of study’ for the management of LLW and ILW because it had the highest margin of safety and is consistent with best international practice.

The DGR involves the construction of rock vaults within stable, low permeability bedrock using conventional mining techniques. The rock vaults would be positioned at a depth of approximately 680 m in relatively flat-lying sedimentary rock formations that have remained tectonically stable and undeformed for hundreds of millions of years. Access to the repository would be through a vertical, concrete-lined shaft. A second shaft would be constructed for ventilation and emergency egress purposes.

In December 2005, OPG submitted a letter of intent to construct the DGR to the CNSC, thus initiating the environmental assessment (EA) process. Following detailed geo-scientific investigations, preliminary design work and environmental and safety assessments, the Environmental Impact Statement, Preliminary Safety Report and supporting reports were submit­ted to CNSC in March 2011 (OPG, http://www. opg. com/power/nuclear/ waste/dgr/index. asp). EA approval and a site preparation and construction licence are expected to be received in 2012/2013 and the earliest in-service is expected in 2018.

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