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Early involvement of the Canadian nuclear regulator in an initiative for a deep geological repository for the long-term management of Canada's used nuclear fuel

Abstract of the technical paper presented at:
2015 International High-Level Radioactive Waste Management Conference
April 12-16, 2015, Charleston, SC

Prepared by:
Julie Mecke
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission


The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is Canada’s independent nuclear regulator, and is responsible for licensing geological repositories intended to provide for long-term management of radioactive wastes, including used nuclear fuel. The CNSC uses a comprehensive licensing system that covers the entire lifecycle of a geological repository from site preparation, construction, operation, decommissioning (closure and post-closure) and, finally, abandonment (release from CNSC licensing).

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is the implementer and is responsible for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

Currently, no licence application has been submitted by the NWMO to the CNSC for a deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel. However, it is international best-practice for the regulator to get involved early in initiatives that may involve the long-term management of radioactive wastes, such as deep geological repositories for used nuclear fuel.

The CNSC and the NWMO are two very different organizations and independent from each other. The CNSC regulates nuclear energy, and ultimately decides if an applicant should be granted a licence for a nuclear activity. The CNSC will not issue a licence unless it is safe. In the future, if the NWMO finds a willing and informed host community in a suitable geological area, they may submit a licence application to the CNSC for the initial stages of licensing (siting and possibly construction). The NWMO would be the licence applicant.

This paper provides a review of the CNSC’s current pre-licensing activities, prior to the submission of a licence application. Furthermore this paper will examine how the CNSC is developing its own relationships with communities and Aboriginal groups who want to know more about our regulatory role, the CNSC’s independent research program on deep geological repositories, and the CNSC’s participation in international projects.

To obtain a copy of the abstract’s document, please contact us at or call 613.995.5894 or 1.800.668.5284 (in Canada). When contacting us, please provide the title and date of the abstract.

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