Fact Sheet

Spent Nuclear Fuel in Canada

Management and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel in Canada

  • June 1, 2020
  • 8:25 pm


52,652 tHM spent nuclear fuel in storage (2017)
94,000 tHM spent nuclear fuel projected by 2050
1968 First year of commercial nuclear operation
19 operating CANDU PHWR nuclear power reactors
5 operating research and test reactors
6 reactors under permanent shutdown
14 GW(e) installed nuclear capacity (2016)
15% nuclear share of domestic energy production (2018)

Regulator: Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)
Power Operators: Bruce Power, Ontario Power Generation, New Brunswick Power

Nuclear Power stations in Canada (as of 2019)

Management and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel


  • NPP used fuel is stored wet in bundles at NPP sites for 5-10 years before being transferred to longer-term dry storage; 4 operational plants have onsite dry storage, in addition to Chalk River Labs (wet and dry) and Whiteshell Labs (only dry)
  • Research reactor fuel is stored at its site (wet at McMaster, dry at others) except for one shutdown reactor’s fuel which is stored at Chalk River Labs
  • In accordance with the national policy, DGR site investigations are ongoing for 2 adjacent locations near Bruce Nuclear Power Plant and 1 in Ignace, northwestern Ontario (as of March 2019)
  • Spent fuel placement in the DGR is expected to take over 40 years


  • Canada’s IAEA safeguards agreement entered into force in 1972 (INFCIRC/164), and the additional protocol followed in 2000
  • Canada signed and ratified the Joint Convention in 1998
  • The 2002 Nuclear Fuel Waste Act forms the foundation for long-term spent fuel management
  • The Act led to creation of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and the 2007 Adaptive Phased Management plan, which includes DGR construction, development, and transportation
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