Nonproliferation
Resource
Fact Sheet

Spent Nuclear Fuel in Canada

Management and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel in Canada

  • June 1, 2020
  • 8:25 pm

Highlights

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

Practices

  • 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

Obligations

  • 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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