NWMO Canadian Used Nuclear Fuel Repository
Jennifer Noronha, Nuclear Waste Management Organization
A brief introduction to Canada’s Used Fuel Repository Plan, including the status of site selection and the conceptual design.
For decades, Canadians have been using electricity generated by CANDU nuclear power reactors in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. As of June 30, 2014, Canada’s commercial nuclear reactors have produced about 3,100 terawatt hours of electricity and just over 2.5 million used fuel bundles. In addition, there are small quantities of used research and development fuels in storage at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s Chalk River Laboratory. If used nuclear fuel bundles could be stacked like cordwood, all of Canada’s used nuclear fuel could fit into about seven hockey rinks, reaching from the ice surface to the top of the boards.
CANDU nuclear fuel consists of uranium dioxide (UO2) made from naturally occurring uranium, see Figure 1. During fabrication, UO2 powder is pressed into solid pellets and then baked into a ceramic form. The ceramic pellets are placed inside a tube made of a zirconium-tin alloy, with the completed assembly called a fuel element or fuel pencil. A CANDU fuel bundle consists of a cylindrical array of 28 or 37 of these fuel elements mounted together to form a bundle. Each CANDU fuel bundle has a length of about 0.5 metre, a diameter of about 0.10 metre, contains about 20 kilograms of uranium and has a total mass of about 24 kilograms.
WMS Journal Volume 2, Issue 2