Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Issue 15 - Evidence - February 14, 2012
OTTAWA, Tuesday, February 14, 2012
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural
Resources met this day at 5:10 p.m. to study the current state and future of
Canada's energy sector (including alternative energy).
Senator W. David Angus (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Good evening, colleagues. Good evening, Mr. Nash and
Ms. Shaver. Good evening to all our listeners on the World Wide Web, on the
CPAC network and elsewhere. I am calling to order this formal meeting of the
Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.
Before we get into the formal part of the meeting, I think you would all
agree that we should say a word about our departed colleague the Honourable
Fred Dickson, who passed away last week after a brave battle with a terrible
disease. Fred was a wonderful senator from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was
very active in the offshore energy business as a lawyer in Nova Scotia for
decades. He was a close adviser and colleague of former Premier John
Buchanan, who served as premier of that province for so many years. When
Fred came to Ottawa and was assigned to this committee, he became a close
friend to all of us and contributed enormously to all our deliberations,
many of which related to issues regarding the offshore of Nova Scotia with
which he was so familiar.
I would like to pay our respects to his family, extend our sympathies to
his wife Kaye and to all of the Dickson family. Perhaps we will have one
second of silence in his memory.
Honourable senators then paid silent tribute.
Thank you, colleagues. We will sorely miss Senator Dickson.
On the other side of the coin, I would like to welcome a new senator to
the committee. One of our great and departed senators, by another way of
departure, who was my predecessor as chair of this committee, Senator Tommy
Banks, reached the retirement age on December 17, which was the last time
that we were sitting formally. I would like to say a word about him and to
welcome Senator George Baker, of Newfoundland and Labrador, who is here not
only representing the East and Atlantic Canada but also filling the enormous
shoes left here by Senator Banks. Senator Banks had a wonderful grasp of the
issues and I know you do, too, because when I meet you on any subject,
George, you are a notch before the rest of us because you never sleep. You
are up 24/7 and you are an expert on legal and constitutional issues and
fisheries and oceans and all good things. We are privileged to have you here
with us. We look forward to working with you.
A word now about Tommy Banks: Not only did he serve many years on this
committee as the chair and as a very engaged member from Edmonton, Alberta,
he is a legend in his own time as musician and as a talented Canadian icon,
really. The thing that amazed me about him is that he, too, became an expert
on issues of energy and matters related not only to the oil and gas industry
but also to the technology that has been developed to help us become a
cleaner and more sustainable nation in terms of our production, use, supply
and demand of energy sources.
I asked Tommy if we could not prevail on his corporate wisdom and memory
to share with us some of his thoughts about the study we are engaged in. He
said, "I will give them to you in no particular order and maybe on a daily
basis." I am pleased to say that I have already received my first fairly
substantial four-page document from Senator Banks. He will be continuing to
give us his thoughts. I will share them with everyone because they are
insightful and serve as a nice guidepost to us as we try to bring our focus
narrower and narrower, down into our report.
I also wanted to mention that we have with us tonight Senator Frum, who
is no stranger to the committee. She is filling in this evening for Senator
Richard Neufeld, a member of the steering committee. Welcome. It is always
good to see you back. I am seeing Senator Frum in another capacity on the
Legal Committee, where we are going to suffer cruel and unusual punishment
for the next few days. Senator Baker, I am sure, will protect us from
In any event, colleagues, you will be interested to know that the
steering committee — that is to say, the deputy chair, Senator Neufeld and
me — went to Calgary last Friday. First, we had a wonderful meeting with
Premier Alison Redford, who is a refreshing, new face on the Canadian
political scene. She has come out of the box on the energy business,
advocating a national energy strategic policy. She is not afraid to use
those words and is working collaboratively with premiers from across the
country, as well as with the energy and environment ministers here
federally. She gave us much of her time and authorized us to quote her in
our report. I took extensive notes. When they are transcribed, I will
circulate them to members.
We also spent three hours with Peter Tertzakian, a well-known energy
expert who works with ARC financial. He has written two books, copies of
which most of us have received. One is called The End of Energy Obesity:
Breaking Today's Energy Addiction for a Prosperous and Secure Tomorrow;
the other is A Thousand Barrels a Second: The Coming Oil Break Point and
the Challenges Facing an Energy Dependent World (2006). He is an
insightful, thoughtful and talented writer. I say this openly because, as
you know, we believe in full disclosure on this committee. He has agreed, as
an interested party and at our request, to work with us in the preparation
of our report in an advisory capacity. We came back from Calgary with an
outline of what our report might look like. We are quite excited on that.
There will be more on that further.
Tonight we revert to our study. We have with us and we are privileged to
welcome two witnesses who have already been here. I think these are the only
witnesses we have heard from before, Ken Nash and Kathryn Shaver of the
Nuclear Waste Management Organization. I think you know who we are, but I
will just remind you. I am Senator David Angus. I am from Quebec and I am
chair. To my right is Senator Grant Mitchell from Alberta. He is the deputy
chair. Our folks from the Parliamentary Library are Sam Banks and Mark
LeBlanc. From Saskatchewan, right out of Palm Springs, California, after
good R & R, is Senator Rob Peterson. I mentioned Senator Frum, who is from
Ontario; the new senator on our committee, Senator George Baker from
Newfoundland and Labrador. Senator Dan Lang, who used to be known under a
nickname and we have been advised not to use that anymore — is from the
Yukon Territory. Senator Joyal is to my immediate left. Our wonderful clerk
— I think you all know her — is Lynn Gordon, without whom there is no
committee. To her left is Senator John Wallace of New Brunswick. He is part
of the cruel and unusual punishment that we will be sharing together in
these forthcoming weeks. To his left are Senator Johnson of Manitoba;
Senator Judith Seidman of Montreal, Quebec; Senator Massicotte, also of
Quebec; and Senator Bert Brown of Alberta.
We have a full complement and tonight we will hear the sequel to the
earlier evidence we heard when we were getting engaged in the nuclear story
in Canada. There are many elements to it. You will recall that we visited
Chalk River and we saw the research aspects and the NR research reactor that
had recently been refurbished and the whole facilities there, including all
the storage places where nuclear waste was reposing since the early post-war
Then we moved on to various other facilities — Cameco, a big uranium
producer, and the OPG and Bruce nuclear facilities near Lake Ontario and
Of course, the other element is the Nuclear Waste Management
Organization, which you two represent. You have indicated to us that there
have been new developments or an evolution, at least, in your work since you
were here before. We are delighted to welcome you. Ken Nash was appointed
President of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization in 2006. He is a
founding director of the NWMO and the immediate past chair of its board of
directors. He has been responsible for overseeing the NWMO's study of
nuclear waste management approaches and is now responsible for implementing
the plan that has been approved by the government, that we were apprised of
the last time, and that basically has as an end game of finding a deep
repository — a geological place — for nuclear waste on a permanent basis.
You have had senior management positions at Ontario Hydro, OPG and
elsewhere. Welcome to you, Ken Nash.
Kathryn Shaver is the Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Nuclear Waste
Management Organization, and she oversees the public engagement,
communications and social sciences research in support of implementing
adaptive phase management — that plan I just referred to for the long-term
management of used nuclear fuel.
Ken Nash, President, Nuclear Waste Management Organization: Good
afternoon. It is indeed a pleasure to be here again, and I very much
appreciate the time with the committee.
Two years ago, when we were last here, we carefully reviewed how the plan
for the long-term management of Canada's used nuclear fuel was developed.
Just to recap, almost 100 per cent of the radioactivity ever produced in a
reactor is locked in that used nuclear fuel, and it does remain hazardous
for a very long period of time.
Today, I want to go back and recap how we developed the plan because it
is always important to understand where the plan came from. Then we will go
on to discussing progress over the past two years, mainly in the challenging
aspect of selecting a location to build Canada's repository for used nuclear
fuel. Work started in this area back in 1980, when AECL started to develop
geologic disposal, but in 1989 a moratorium was placed on siting because of
public concerns about the activity. A federal environmental panel was
established at that time. Almost 10 years later, the panel reported that the
technical safety of geologic disposal had been demonstrated at a conceptual
level, but there was insufficient public support to move forward. The panel
made a number of recommendations that found a way into the Nuclear Fuel
Waste Act in 2002.
Since 2002, there has been some significant progress. Our organization
was formed as a requirement of that act, with a mission to, first of all
develop a plan and then, with government approval, to implement that plan.
Trust funds that now exceed $5 billion have been established by the used
fuel owners. NWMO completed that study of alternatives and made a
recommendation to the government in 2005. The government decision was made
in 2007, and an important activity for us was to develop and launch a site
selection process, which we did in 2010. Our update, when I hand the floor
to my colleague, will focus on how we are doing with that site selection
To quickly recap the study, it was quite an extensive one, taking three
years. We engaged 19,000 Canadians, including 2,500 Aboriginal people and a
large number of experts. There was a wide diversity of views, but there was
common ground. It is always important for us to remember what that common
ground is. Canadians believe that safety and security, not surprisingly, is
a top priority, but also that this generation has a responsibility to deal
with this material that we have created.
We have to take advantage of best international practices, and because of
the long time frames involved we have to be adaptable to changes in
technology and the preferences of society, and to evolving policy direction.
Adaptive phased management, or APM as we call it, did emerge as the
approach that would best meet the priorities and the values of Canadians.
APM is both a technical method and a management system. The technical
method, as the chair pointed out, is isolation of used fuel in a deep
geologic formation where it can be monitored and, if necessary, retrieved.
This method is very much linked with international practice; you will see in
almost all countries with major nuclear power programs that they have made
national decisions to pursue deep geologic repositories. Equally important
is how we get there. The management system is specifically tailored to
Canadian values and priorities. It requires flexibility in the pace and
manner of implementation; there are no set deadlines. It requires openness,
transparency and staged decision making, involving Canadians at every step
of the way. Importantly, the project must be located in an informed and
willing host community.
The Government of Canada accepted our recommendation for adaptive phased
management in June 2007. At that point, we became responsible for
implementing what we consider to be a national infrastructure project, and
this will involve an investment of over $16 billion.
It will be a high technology project, with skilled employment for
hundreds over many decades and will involve a long-term partnership between
the NWMO and the host community. It will be highly regulated, with strict
scientific and technical criteria to ensure safety. At NWMO, we see
ourselves as very much working on behalf of Canadians to implement adaptive
phased management. We can only succeed if we maintain our social licence to
We employ several mechanisms to systematically engage Canadians and to
help set the direction that we move forward in. This includes, but is not
limited to, an annual public review of our implementation plan. As we
discussed last time, one of the most challenging aspects of that
implementation plan is the selection of a site for Canada's used nuclear
I will now hand it over to my colleague Kathryn Shaver who will provide a
status report on how we are doing on that part of our plan.
Kathryn Shaver, Vice President, APM Engagement and Site Selection,
Nuclear Waste Management Organization: Thank you very much. Good
As our starting point for siting, we felt it was very important to take
the time to develop a socially acceptable framework for making decisions on
siting. Through 2008 and 2009, NWMO led a collaborative process and engaged
experts, many specialists, and citizens to together identify what the key
principles should be in a fair and appropriate siting process and what those
steps would look like in leading to decisions on a site.
Many key principles emerged out of that process. They include a focus on
safety for people and the environment. A community driven process was very
important, one in which communities would opt in and would have no
obligation for many years.
Also very important was selecting a site in an informed and willing host
community and engaging, very early in the process, surrounding communities,
the broader region, and Aboriginal people. Those very important principles
are embedded in the siting process that we have today, and we are looking
forward to updating the committee.
Having established that foundation, the NWMO initiated the siting process
in May 2010. We began with a broad awareness building program and an
invitation to communities and organizations to contact NWMO for information
about the adaptive phased management program. This really is a
community-driven process where communities opt in if they are interested. To
date, several communities have expressed initial interest and 10 communities
are actively engaged in learning about the project and engaging their
citizens in discussion. Three of these communities are in Saskatchewan, six
are in northern Ontario, and one is in southwestern Ontario. Of these 10
areas, two are Aboriginal communities. We anticipate that in the months to
come, additional communities will choose to enter the process as well.
I will talk a little about what happens after a community comes into the
process. One of the first things NWMO does is conduct the initial screening.
This early screening of the local geology is to understand whether there are
any well known technical features that suggest the area is not a good
candidate for further consideration. It gives early feedback to the
community. Based on those early screenings to date, we have removed one
community and it is no longer in the process.
The 10 communities that I mentioned are actively engaged and working
through what we refer to as our Learn More Program, which is a set of
capacity-building activities to engage community members as they learn more
about this project. They receive detailed briefings on the project and
community delegations to our nuclear facilities to see where the interim
storage facilities are today and how they use fuel, which is safely stored
and regulated. They also have community delegations visiting the Canadian
Nuclear Safety Commission in Ottawa for a full-day briefing on the
regulatory framework related to this project.
The NWMO delivers open house weeks in the communities, which provides
quite a broad engagement to talk about the project. Many have also engaged
independent experts to this program. We encourage communities to engage
others, to research questions, to ask about safety in order to learn more
about this topic. Many have been conducting visioning and long-term planning
discussions in their communities to understand whether this kind of project
would align well with their futures, how they wish to grow and whether this
could be managed in alignment with how the community would like to evolve.
Communities will decide whether they wish to continue the process. One of
the next decision points for communities is whether they would like to move
on to the next step, which we have referred to as a feasibility study.
Beginning this year, NWMO will be initiating desktop feasibility studies
with those interested communities. To date, six communities have passed
resolutions to request that the feasibility studies begin.
By way of description of what will be involved in those studies that will
begin this year, part of the study will be focused on examining further the
local geology to see if it would be suitable for this repository. It will
involve a review of the all of the published geoscientific and geophysical
information. Community members will be actively looking at the
socio-economic part of the project and what this project will mean for them,
how it will change things and whether it will be positive and what effects
will have to be managed from their point of view.
As part of this process, we will be working with the community to expand
the dialogue and outreach to their neighbours so that the surrounding
communities and Aboriginal people and some of the regional opinion leaders
start to come into the dialogue as well. As Mr. Nash mentioned, this is a
very large project and would affect more than the immediate community in
terms of its growth and the opportunity that it will bring.
The desktop study I just described will take a year or slightly more to
complete. Looking ahead to the next steps, we imagine that a smaller number
of strong candidate communities will be carried forward to the next phase,
which will be a significant phase of field work. At that time, we will have
sampling and drilling of deep bore holes, followed by a period of extensive
technical and scientific investigations underground.
Public engagement will expand as that process unfolds. We plan to have a
regional study that will bring together the community with its neighbours in
the region to understand together the broader impacts in the region. Through
that as well, we will start to get a sense of the interest in the broader
This examination of candidate sites will involve many phases over a
number of years. Working with interested communities, NWMO will lead
progressively more detailed assessments of the sites and communities,
looking at both technical safety and social acceptability.
In order to select a final site, NWMO will need to demonstrate a robust
safety case against regulatory requirements, and the community will be
required to bring forward a compelling demonstration of willingness and
support, having engaged its community members. Then, the formal regulatory
review process will be initiated.
I will pass the presentation back to Mr. Nash.
The Chair: It sounds to us like you are looking for study after
study after study over years. Ultimately, it is one area that you will come
Ms. Shaver: That is correct.
Mr. Nash: In parallel to the scientific activities, we continue
with quite a comprehensive technology optimization program. We do this in
collaboration with 12 different universities and several international
partners, including jointly sponsored projects to optimize designs and
continuously improve our understanding of safety processes. International
collaboration occurs in several forms on all aspects of our work, including
stakeholder involvement, financial assurance and policy development.
One such forum is the 2012 International Conference on Geological
Repositories, which is being held about this time in Toronto, in
collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Nuclear
Energy Agency of the OECD, the European Commission, the EDRAM group of
eleven NWMO-equivalent organizations in various countries. We were very
pleased to be invited to host this event as a form of recognition for the
progress being made here in Canadian. This will be the fourth such
conference to build on events that took place in Denver, Bern and Stockholm
over the past two decades.
Also over the past two years, we were pleased to contribute to the work
of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. The commission
was appointed by President Obama and was chartered to recommend a new
strategy for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle after the
demise of the project. Their report made several references to the Canadian
approach and their recommendations shared many similarities with our
program, including the development of a geologic repository — they are
solidly on that square, an adaptive, staged and consensus-based approach to
siting, the establishment of a new organization dedicated solely to
implementing long- term waste management strategies, and access to dedicated
funds. We were pleased to see that development in the United States and the
recognition of the progress that we are making here.
In summary, Canada, together with our international partners, has the
technology for the safe, long-term isolation of used nuclear fuel in a
geological formation. We have the benefits of a strong government policy and
a legislative framework to support progress; and mechanisms in place to
ensure that financial burdens will not be passed on to future generations.
NWMO has a clear mandate that is consistent with the expectations of
Canadians. I hope you can see that we are making steady progress.
We appreciate this opportunity to share progress with the committee and
would be very happy to answer any questions you may have.
The Chair: Thank you, sir. It appears to be a lengthy process.
Before going to senators for questions, perhaps you could give us an idea
of the order of magnitude of the problem once you have identified the site
and satisfied all these community buy-ins and things you have described so
well. How much nuclear waste used fuel is out there that will be taken to
this site? Furthermore, is it also to be a place or repository of future
used nuclear fuel?
Mr. Nash: Our mandate in the act requires us to manage any used
nuclear fuel that has been generated in the past or will be generated in the
future. That is our mandate. Exactly what that will constitute is very
difficult to foretell. It will depend on rehabilitation of reactors and
whether new reactors are built.
Today, there are 2 million fuel bundles in storage. Perhaps you are aware
of the configuration. It is the size of a fireplace log. They are safely
stored where they are produced and under district regulation. If you were to
compact them all together, they would fill approximately six hockey rinks up
to the boards. That gives you some idea of the volume. They are not actually
stored like that, of course, but if you were to actually compact them
together, that is what it would look like.
If we looked at how many fuel bundles could be generated from the
existing plants today with their planned and committed refurbishments, we
are looking at a number somewhere close to the region of 4.5 million fuel
Senator Mitchell: I am smiling because, as you were suggesting it
was six hockey rinks, Sam Banks, the analyst, said that is a perfectly
Canadian measurement. I am just wondering if it is imperial or metric. It
certainly describes the magnitude of the issue.
This is called hazardous waste. In what way is it hazardous? Is it
hazardous as in blowing up, or hazardous as in emitting radiation?
Mr. Nash: I think it is the latter, hazardous in terms of emitting
radiation. It is almost inconceivable that there would actually be an
explosion the way it is configured. Once the fuel is outside the reactor in
storage, it will no longer be volatile in a way that it could be explosive.
It is the protection of people and the environment from the radiation that
would be emitted.
Senator Mitchell: What sort of indemnification will you give to
the community that gets this site? Let us say there is an unlikely mishap
and radiation is emitted. Would you guarantee moving them all and putting
them somewhere else? How do you cover that?
Mr. Nash: I could make a couple of comments on that. The specific
arrangement with the community is something we would sit down with the
community in the spirit of a partnership and work that out. Things like
indemnities will be part of that discussion.
In terms of the features of the repository, there have been numerous
demonstrations of safety, and many independent reviews have concluded
internationally and many important bodies — I mentioned some of them earlier
— have also concluded that geological repositories are safe. However, as a
further measure, with the repository we are working towards, the material
could be retrieved if there are needs for potential future use of the
material that do not exist today, or people want to see the ability to
retrieve it in case after a period of monitoring there is some sign that it
could be a problem in the future.
Senator Mitchell: Given that you will have one site, by definition
that means a lot of transportation. Give us some idea about that problem and
how people are reacting to that.
Mr. Nash: Perhaps I will start with that, and my colleague can
discuss how we deal with the question of transportation in the context of
the site selection process.
In Canada, there has not been a large volume of used nuclear fuel
transported because it is all safely stored where it is produced. There have
been small quantities moved for post-radiation examination. Internationally,
there has been a huge amount of transportation that has occurred over the
past 40 years without any serious incident or radiation impacts. It has an
outstanding safety record. The technical safety is really assured. There are
massive containers that undergo huge torture testing.
That is the technical side of the question. There is also the social
acceptance side of it, which can be a factor and is certainly a factor in
the consideration of locating the geologic repository. I will perhaps pass
it to my colleague.
Ms. Shaver: Yes, transportation is an important part of siting and
will be one of the considerations. It is important for us to be able to
demonstrate that a safe, secure site exists or can be developed and will
meet very robust regulatory requirements of the Canadian Nuclear Safety
Commission and Transport Canada. This is very much a top-of-mind issue when
you start talking about the project to Canadians. Transportation is very
important, and they are very interested to know about it. We understand that
it is an important societal consideration in this project. They ask many
questions in open houses and are interested to know the regulatory
framework. They are very interested to know about the international movement
of this fuel on a regular basis, but also the robust testing that goes into
the containers as they are certified as well.
It is important to us that we build into our early dialogues discussion
about transportation. We know there are issues and concerns that will
surface very early, whether you are talking to the immediate community or
their neighbours or people who think they might be on a transportation
corridor. As we start the feasibility studies this year, we will be hoping
to get a sense of surfacing some of these issues and questions that are top
of mind that we can help to address.
As we move a little further into the assessment, we will, of course, have
possible modes and routes to discuss with those communities engaged and hope
to get into a more detailed discussion together of how might one manage
those routes to mitigate effects and what are outstanding questions and
concerns. We do have the benefit of time to have the dialogue it takes to
bring transportation to the table and be discussed much in advance, many
years before it will be moved. We are certainly of the view that we need to
make a strong safety and security case to the satisfaction of the regulatory
authorities and citizens before we move the fuel.
Senator Mitchell: Obviously the biggest chunk of transportation,
it would seem, will be at the outset with the six rinks. How many rinks will
be transported every year after that? What is the volume? Is it quite small?
Do these fuel units last a long time? Will people expect, if they are on the
route, that there will be a truck every day after the initial burst? That is
a poor choice of words.
Mr. Nash: I understand the question, but I do not have the exact
Senator Mitchell: Roughly?
Mr. Nash: It may be in the order of two trucks per week. It is not
50, and it is not one every month. Two per week is probably something close
to the right number.
Senator Mitchell: Finally, there are two figures that are quite
striking. It is quite remarkable that there is a $5 billion trust in
segregated funds put aside by the industry to cover mishaps, it would seem.
Then there is a $16 billion project cost. The $5 billion is not going into
the project, is it?
Mr. Nash: This can get very complicated very quickly. I will put
that warning out front.
The $16 billion is the total cost of managing somewhere in the order of 3
million fuel bundles. If we look to the present value of that cost, because
those costs are stretched way out into the future, it would be close to
something like $7 billion. The industry, mainly Ontario Power Generation,
already has trust funds that are not to be used for anything else but this
activity. You can see they have $5 billion existing towards the $7 billion
Senator Mitchell: That $5 billion will go to this project?
Mr. Nash: Yes, it will go toward this project. Each year,
contributions continue to be made to the trust funds.
Senator Mitchell: Excellent.
Senator Brown: When we were in Ontario, we looked at different
nuclear reactors and places where they were buried. What depth of water does
it need to protect the cooling things in the tanks that we saw? They look
like swimming pools but they have a lot of spent rods hanging in them. What
is the safe depth of water in order to protect people? That cooling period
is quite long, I understand.
Mr. Nash: Again, I do not have the exact number, but when the fuel
bundles immediately come out to the reactor, they go into a water pool. One
of the reasons they have to go into a water pool is that they are very hot
because they are still generating heat at that point. Over time, the amount
of heat they generate diminishes. They need to stay in the water pool for
about 10 years to dissipate the heat. The depth of water is more related to
the safety of the people maintaining the water pools, to shield them from
any radiation that is coming out. It is in the order of at least 10 feet.
Senator Brown: I understand that. We saw one place where they
actually buried this stuff on a few acres. They had quite a few rods buried
there. I am not sure what kind of container they were buried in, but I am
sure they had some kind of container. We then went to another one that was
actually put into a large warehouse where they put containers. The only way
I can describe the shape of them is what you would do if you took binoculars
out of a case, only they were very large, about 20 feet high and 6 or 8 feet
in width. They were sealed with a welded cap on them. The warehouse is
monitored 24/7, 365 days a year for any leakage at all. That must be a
fairly expensive proposition.
Could you tell me what level of dirt fill would protect the environment
and the people close to a project like that?
Mr. Nash: To clarify my understanding, I think that the warehouse
and the binocular-shaped containers to which you are probably referring
there is dry storage. As I mentioned, fuel bundles must be cooled by water
for about 10 years to dissipate the heat. After that period of time, you can
move them to what you described as binocular-shaped containers that are
concrete and steel because the heat they are generating at that point is not
that great. As the water pools become full, which is the preferred method of
storing them — that is the first-in, first-out idea. Those are monitored
just for safekeeping. There is very little activity; they do not need much
maintenance at all. It is just monitoring to ensure there is nothing
untoward occurring. That is what we call dry storage. There are a large
number of fuel bundles in dry storage now.
Regarding used nuclear fuel being buried here in Canada, none of that is
buried in any way at the nuclear power plants, such as the reactors at
Bruce, Darlington, Gentilly or at Point Lepreau. There may be some early
reactor fuel, experimental type, which was produced by AECL a long time ago,
that is stored on a temporary basis in some in- ground containers. However,
I am not familiar with the details of that. It is a very small quantity of
fuel compared to the 2 million fuel bundles. Certainly that is not a
permanent storage facility.
Senator Brown: No, I do not think they said it was permanent. They
drove us through it on a bus, so it probably was not that dangerous.
I am getting to a question here that has puzzled me. I have heard there
have been rods encased in glass in order to reduce any amount of radiation.
I have heard about ones that were put into concrete and stored that way,
which is experimental at least. Could we not put the three things together?
Why do we not try putting them in glass, in a sphere, and put concrete
around them and, if necessary, put steel around that? We know that water
protects the radiation. Obviously, it is used quite frequently to cool the
rods. Why are they not talking to the United Nations about the Mariana
Trench, which is seven miles deep? They can store this stuff there forever.
Mr. Nash: Perhaps I will take you back to 2002, when our
organization initiated the study of options. There were three specific
options that we had to consider, as well as any other options that might
exist out there. The three options were geologic, leaving the material
outside in those dry storage containers forever, perhaps, or a centralized
storage above ground. However, in addition to the three that we were
mandated to study, we looked at all other possible options. We made
consultations on what those options might be. Some of the suggestions
included why not consider firing it out into the next galaxy? Why not bury
them in deep bore holes? Why do we not consider digging those bore holes
deep into the ocean?
All of those options were on the table. However, for various reasons, we
came back to the deep geological repository. The one you mentioned in there,
namely, is it technologically proven to the same level that geologic
repositories are; is there a degree of certainty around what would actually
happen; is the science in place to prove some of those quite reasonable
theories to examine, for a whole host of reasons did not wind up on the
Senator Brown: We heard from an expert on laser fusion energy a
few months ago. He was adamant — and they had worked on it for seventeen
years in California and five years in Alberta — that we would have laser
fusion energy within two years. I have talked to some other people since
then who have said they will get it, but it will not be in two years; more
like ten years or even maybe twenty years.
If we are saving this stuff for spent fuel that we can retrieve somewhere
at some time, would there be any connection to using that energy with laser
fusion energy? Is there any value to laser fusion? Do you know anything
Mr. Nash: I will answer that question by referring back to
adaptive phased management.
Notwithstanding that adaptive phased management says we work toward a
deep geologic repository, we also have an obligation under it to look at new
technologies that might develop and that may suggest that we should change
the course. Certainly, the introduction of fusion, which is a different form
of producing nuclear energy, is something that we keep what we call a
"watching brief" on. Periodically, we publish a watching brief on
reprocessing, partitioning, and transmutation. These are alternative,
back-into-the-fuel-cycles options to what we are engaging in now, which is
direct disposal. The idea that fusion may result in a better fuel cycle is
certainly in the minds of many researchers.
The report we produced recently is based on the conclusions of many
bodies. I am talking here about the International Atomic Energy Agency, the
Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD and even the Blue Ribbon Commission in the
United States and other bodies that have looked at this question. They have
all concluded that, whatever fuel cycle option occurs in the future, you
will need a deep geologic repository. You might be putting fuel directly in
there, as we are planning today, or you may be putting in some by-products
of some future fusion operation. The other thing they said is that the
volume of waste is not reduced by any of these fuel cycles. You will still
need a repository the same size, though maybe the radioactivity will be
there in a different form. Another conclusion is that these advanced fuel
cycles are, as you mentioned, many, many decades away from being proven
commercially, if they ever will be.
One of the other conclusions is that, using today's technology, any of
these things are prohibitively expensive. These are conclusions posted on
our website, based on reviews that we have done of other quite significant
bodies in this area. It is like perpetual motion. Someone may find, in the
future, that laser fusion works, but it is not something we can responsibly
bank on today.
The Chair: Next is Senator Peterson from Saskatchewan. I notice
that three of these potential sites are in your own backyard. You do not
look worried to me.
Senator Peterson: No.
Obviously, a lot of communities have expressed an interest in this. I
imagine there is a tremendous economic benefit to them. My question is: Once
you select one, is that the time that you would begin your work on this
interprovincial transfer of waste and getting the provinces to sign off?
My understanding of Yucca Mountain is that the governor refused to sign
off and that killed it.
Ms. Shaver: Perhaps I can begin to talk about the work with the
provincial governments, and Mr. Nash may wish to add.
We have continually sought to keep all of the provincial governments
updated on our work. As you can gather from our documents, our focus has
been on the nuclear provinces — Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario and
Quebec. We do keep them briefed; they are very interested in our work. The
focus to date has been on keeping officials briefed. As well, at the working
level, we are anticipating what the policy frameworks might be that we need
to work on together in future — whether access to Crown land or permitting
to do field investigations — and when that might be a decision point for us.
At this point in time, there is no decision for a provincial government.
There is nothing in the statute that says there is a role for the provinces,
but we feel very strongly that, in order to site this and make a firm
decision, one would want to know that there was the support of the province
and, perhaps, the broader region for having this very large project located
To date, as we understand from the discussions, Saskatchewan, Ontario and
New Brunswick are very supportive of this national plan. Being nuclear
provinces, they very much see the responsibility of us moving forward with a
They are very much supportive of the willing host-community concept and
feel very strongly that it has to be a willing community that would put
itself forward and that there must be a very strong regulatory framework to
prove safety before one goes ahead.
They have been supportive of us engaging communities, if communities wish
to investigate their potential interest at this point in time. There is no
formal statutory role where a province would need to be part of the process,
but we, of course, would want to engage them throughout.
Mr. Nash: Perhaps I could add one further clarification to that.
In taking the decision to actually select a specific site and then to move
forward and invest up to hundreds of millions of dollars in confirming the
site as suitable, we would want to understand quite clearly what the view of
the provincial government was. I do not think we would ever want to be in a
situation like the one you referred to in the United States where they
decided on Nevada federally, but the governor of Nevada never wanted it. It
took 20 years to come to the realization that it would not work. We do not
want to go down that path. It is not yet the time for a province to take a
decision or a position, but I think they are quite supportive of the
process. At some point, it will be a question for the province and for us
whether or not there is a willing host there.
Senator Peterson: It will take some time to get this completed. I
presume utilities can store on site for another 40, 50, or maybe 60 years?
Mr. Nash: That is absolutely correct. The storage systems in place
now are very robust. They have design lives that can be extended for 100
years, if necessary, and their capacity can be gradually added to. From a
cost point of view, from an environmental point of view, and from a storage
capacity point of view, there is no urgency to move yet, so that allows us
to take the time necessary to maintain and achieve the social licence to
locate in a particular facility. It is very difficult to predict how long it
will take for any given community to satisfy itself that it does understand
the risks and is willing to move forward.
Senator Peterson: When you are successful and you have this going,
would you consider, on a fee for service basis, accepting waste from other
Mr. Nash: During that three-year study, and in the continuing
dialogues we have with Canadians in all kinds of venues, it is clear that
Canadians generally — and I am talking about a large majority of them — see
our plan as a difficult thing, It is something that is not easy to do.
However, it is necessary, and they support it. However, when someone
introduces the idea of other waste, that is a completely different ball
game. We do not have a social licence to move forward with adaptive phased
management if we start to include fuel from other countries. Perhaps you
want to add to that, Ms. Shaver.
Ms. Shaver: I think you covered it. Under the Nuclear Fuel Waste
Act, we understand that our mandate focused on managing Canada's used
nuclear fuel. The adaptive phased management plan approved by cabinet was
also about managing Canada's used fuel. We do not feel we have any social
licence whatsoever to change the direction of that repository.
As Mr. Nash mentioned, it is a passionate topic. While people spoke with
passion about the need to move forward and manage our waste and not leave it
for future generations, they felt strongly that it this should be for
Canadian used fuel only.
Senator Baker: Mr. Chair, in your tradition, I will ask a legal
question to the witnesses pertaining to the act, given your great history
before the Supreme Court of Canada, at which time, as I recall, you were
very successful. That was many years ago.
Section 48 of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act makes it an offence to
talk about or to disclose prescribed information. The definition of
"prescribed information" under the regulations covers all security having
to do with the site, even that you cannot disclose the regulations. That is
my recollection of it.
Does that confine you in your public meetings? Do you ever get into that?
The section cannot stop you at this meeting because this is a judicial
proceeding under section 118 of the Criminal Code. It does not matter what
you say here. You cannot get into trouble here. It is an offence under the
NSCA to disclose any prescribed information. Has that ever come up in your
discussions or planning?
Mr. Nash: To my knowledge, no questions have come forward that put
us in jeopardy in such a situation. The question of security comes up, and
we advise people that there are some quite robust security regulations in
place and that certain aspects of those regulations and the provisions are
protected for security reasons.
That response has sufficed for people, and there is no question that
there will be security provisions. One activity of our Learn More Program is
to take community members to the nuclear power plants. They have experienced
the same things that senators have experienced. The security at those
nuclear power plants is very robust. For this facility, they gain a good
appreciation that we will have to put in place similar security
requirements. Generally speaking, that kind of dialogue and that kind of
demonstration have sufficed in that regard.
I would add that in one of my former roles with Ontario Power Generation
at Ontario Hydro I had responsibility for the material currently stored at
nuclear power plants. I went through the regulatory process with the
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. On occasions in a public forum, we had
discussion with the commission members and certain questions came forward
from them. The chair and the lawyer directed that those questions should be
taken in camera, and so we went from in public to in camera. The regulatory
authorities and the people licensing these facilities are very aware that
certain things have to be protected. I was not familiar with this specific
section of the act, but it does not cause us a problem moving forward.
Senator Baker: My main question concerned your great fund, and it
is a very complex area that we are discussing. Nuclear waste management
sites, I imagine, would include mine tailings of uranium mines, would it
Mr. Nash: Mine tailings are managed in a specific way. They are
managed very close to the mine site, but I am certainly not an expert in
that. We have no responsibility for that activity.
Senator Baker: I ask that question because the cost of maintaining
that site securely is rather extensive. In some cases, it costs up to $1
million a year, for example Denison Mines and Rio Algom.
By the regulations that you have been discussing, they have to give some
assurance that there will be sufficient money for the future for maintaining
the safety of that indefinitely. As I recall, there were two ways of doing
that: One was a fund that would be contributed to each year by the mining
company; and the other was to give a letter of credit covering 10 to 20
years to a bank. Is this the same fund that we are talking about? Does that
money make up a part of the fund that you raised in your total estimate?
Mr. Nash: The principles that you are talking about and the
processes are somewhat similar to the ones that are specifically prescribed
in the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act. In the Nuclear Safety Control Act
regulations, administered by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, there
is a requirement for financial guarantee. The financial guarantee for the
purposes you describe can take several forms: a letter of credit, a
guarantee from a provincial government, or a trust fund secured only for
that purpose. For our endeavor, the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act says that
financial guarantees are not adequate and there must be trust funds. The
money must be there mainly on the principle that we have a responsibility to
not pass on a burden, either financial or management, to a future
generation. Under the act for this material, it is quite specific that trust
funds must be developed for this purpose.
Senator Baker: Congratulations on your work, by the way.
Senator Lang: I would highly recommend that Senator Baker attend
the next open house and ask some questions as it pertains to that section.
I will go back to the concept of the geological facility. I was fortunate
enough, along with a number of other committee members, to tour the nuclear
plants and have a look at the current storage facility. It is too bad that
more Canadians could not have that opportunity because it certainly was a
very telling show for us. At the end of day, we came back with a lot of
comfort knowing that we have organizations in place doing a real good job in
respect of ensuring our safety and providing much necessary power.
If I am not mistaken, I believe that Finland is going ahead with a
similar type of facility. Are they in construction? Perhaps you could expand
on that to refresh our memories and to let viewers of these proceedings know
that this is happening in other parts of the world and is not just something
new to us.
Mr. Nash: The country in the lead on this quite rightly is
Finland. Finland has secured a willing host community, and they are part way
through the regulatory review process, which allows them to sink the shaft
before they get a full construction licence. The shaft is greater than 400
metres and they are doing further testing down there. Next year, I believe,
they will make their final submission to the safety case for the geologic
repository. They are planning to have their facility in service in 2020.
The country close behind them is Sweden, using similar processes, and
their in-service date is projected to be 2025. They have a willing host
community, and they made their file into their regulatory authority for the
Shortly behind them are the French, and they are in a similar stage,
exactly the same as Sweden. They have a location, and their target
in-service date is 2025.
In all those three countries, we have a huge amount of collaboration
between ourselves, and we meet on a regular basis to exchange experiences
and technology information.
Senator Lang: I will pursue that, if I could. What countries at
the present time actually have a geological storage facility that is
actually in place and being utilized it at this time? Are there any and, if
Mr. Nash: There is one deep geologic facility in service now in
New Mexico in the United States. It is not storing used feel. It is storing
other milder forms of radioactive waste. That has been in service for 15
years or so.
Senator Lang: I would like to refer to the way we store waste at
the present time. We have a $5 billion growing trust funding, and that is
growing every year, I presume, until such time we actually build this
facility and then continue to replenish that. We also have the situation
presently where there is ongoing storage from the existing plants in the
various ways that we store fuel at the present time. Do you have a figure
what that is costing at this time on an annual basis the way we store it and
the cost of maintaining that storage?
Mr. Nash: I am sorry, I do not. We are not responsible for the
on-site storage, so not having that area of responsibility I would feel
exposed in trying to provide that information for you. I am sure that some
of the waste owners and the power reactor companies that are operating the
power reactors, OPG, et cetera, would perhaps be prepared to disclose that
Senator Wallace: Mr. Nash, you were saying earlier that your
organization looked at a number of different disposal options and storage
options and has concluded that the deep underground storage is the
appropriate way for us to go in Canada. I wonder if there is any other
location in the world where another approach has been taken other than deep
underground storage. In particular, what I am thinking about, and
undoubtedly it was something that minds greater than mine on this issue have
looked at, are there any locations worldwide where there was an appropriate
means of doing long- term storage on site where the nuclear plants are
located and therefore there would not be the need to transport it by rail or
by truck and the inherent risk that goes with that? Are there examples in
the world where long-term as opposed to short- term storage techniques have
been used on site?
Mr. Nash: The brief answer to that is no. I think it is safe to
say that all major countries with nuclear power programs have made a policy
decision to move forward with deep geologic repositories for spent nuclear
fuel. This includes the United States and the countries I mentioned before.
The big one there is France, of course. Japan has a program to move forward.
China has a program to move forward. There are a number of countries that
have not taken any decision on what to do in the future, but it is really a
deferral of a decision. No country has ever come, to my knowledge, to the
conclusion that keeping it on site in above ground storage is the final
answer. I have not seen that anywhere.
Senator Wallace: A centralized location is really the only option
that we would seem to have in Canada. That being the case, the waste
material has to be transported from locations, in my case, from New
Brunswick, to wherever this happens to be, and there are other locations in
Saskatchewan. Do you anticipate the waste will be transported by both rail
Mr. Nash: On the option of what mode of transportation would
occur, there are examples in other parts of the world of those three modes,
by water, by rail and by road, and that is occurring as we speak. A decision
in Canada has not been taken, and it would very much depend on a number of
factors, for instance, the final locations and how accessible it is to these
different modes, and also the public consultation that would have to occur
before any decision about the site and about the mode of transportation.
Senator Wallace: It reminds me somewhat of a few years ago, I
guess going back 15 to 20 years, in Canada as in other countries in dealing
with the moving of petroleum by water, whether it is crude or refined
product, and there was a spill response regime in the country where all
carriers are required to have specialized equipment that can deal with
petroleum spills, and certain organizations were designated with specific
training to be able to respond. Do you anticipate a similar type of regime
would be required in dealing with the transport, whether the nuclear waste
is transported by sea, rail or road? It would seem to be a very specialized
Mr. Nash: That would be absolutely necessary. To further
elaborate, although used fuel is not transported in any large quantities in
Canada, and maybe one fuel bundle is moved for post irradiation to Chalk
River, there are quite a number of shipments of other forms of radioactive
materials, especially between the three nuclear power plant locations in
Ontario. There are a number of shipments that occur each day, quite large
shipments, and there is an emergency response plan in place. That emergency
response plan is known, and all the regular emergency response, fire, police
and ambulance, are aware of that plan. There are people especially trained
at the nuclear power plants in each part of the country, divided up in
between specific locations, and exercises are carried out to test the
communication and in some cases to look at what happens if there is a fender
bender or a truck turns over and recovery. There is quite an extensive set
of procedures and policies, et cetera, in place already to deal with
movements that occur today. If and when the used fuel is transported from
site, there will be similar precautions and emergency response requirements
in place for that.
Senator Wallace: Although the distances could be greater. If, for
example, there is a location in northern Ontario, coming from New Brunswick
is quite a distance, so there is a whole need for that.
Mr. Nash: Correct. It would have to be an extension of that.
Senator Lang: Just to put this in context, we are not talking
about having a truck every 10 minutes like in an open pit mine. When we talk
about the waste in the last 40 years, six hockey rinks, in the context of
what you have to transport, it will not be that great, is it, from the point
of view of volume?
Mr. Nash: I gave that estimate of two per week.
Ms. Shaver: We could get specifics on that.
The Chair: He said every two days a truck.
Mr. Nash: Perhaps two shipments per week.
Senator Wallace: I do not see it as an issue. Volume is part of
it, but it is the risk.
With the location of the underground storage, is there an anticipated
minimum distance that it would be located away from developed areas, or from
towns, or from residential areas?
Mr. Nash: The short answer to that question is no because safety
is provided by a multi-barrier system. All the safety assessments that are
carried out would ensure that this material would not be coming back to the
environment. There are no safe distances to move this from a community.
Senator Wallace: I think if you were locating it near a community
that would be an obvious concern people would have, namely, how close it
would be to our town. You can give them all the assurances by risk and how
you are negating that risk. It is just a question of privilege. I guess the
answer is no, there is no set-back distance from where people live and work.
Ms. Shaver: From a safety perspective, there is no requirement to
locate this outside or some distance from a community. From a social
preference point of view we would be working with the community to situate
it in a location that met their needs, but it would not be for a safety
The Chair: You have these 10 potential sites. One of them has been
rejected; potentially, you are down to nine. You did not name them, but
there has been some interesting media speculation recently where towns are
interested in getting the deal with you all. Our people tell us the names of
them are English River First Nation, Northern Village of Pinehouse, both in
Saskatchewan; Township of Ignace in Ontario; Township of Ear Falls, Ontario;
Township of Schreiber, Ontario; Township of Hornepayne, Ontario; Township of
Red Rock, Ontario; Township of Creighton, Saskatchewan; and the Municipality
of Wawa, Ontario. These are all communities, are they not?
Ms. Shaver: Yes. Perhaps I can clarify that the names of those
communities and the processes are in the public domain. To recap, one that
you mentioned, Red Rock, Ontario, is no longer in the process. That would
have been number 11. With Red Rock no longer in, you named most of them: the
Municipality of Pinehouse, English River First Nation; Creighton in
Saskatchewan as well; the Ontario ones were Ignace, Ear Falls, Nipigon,
Schreiber, Hornepayne, Wawa and Brockton.
The Chair: I did not have that. We must have slipped through that
Ms. Shaver: It is a more recent addition.
Senator Massicotte: You mentioned all the passion this subject
raises, and we all witness that immensely. You have nine candidates, but you
are a long ways from concluding which ones should be and they are probably a
long ways from concluding if they want to be. Is there a possibility that
the conclusion should be that temporary sites should become permanent? They
are already there.
The Chair: On that, you said they may be a long way from deciding
whether they want to be or not, but I had understood they all had applied.
Ms. Shaver: I would be happy to clarify. The communities at this
point have not decided that they wish to be a host community. They are in a
learning process; they have opted in to learn. They may withdraw at any
point for a number of years. The mayors and councils have not committed
their communities on behalf of anyone. They have just started a process of
discussion with their own communities and they will be engaging their
neighbours to see if this is a project that fits with the region. They have
not committed themselves.
Senator Massicotte: They are flirting but they are not dating or
The Chair: Sorry to have interrupted you, Senator Massicotte.
Senator Massicotte: Having said that, is there a real possibility?
What is so wrong with the temporary location becoming permanent? People have
obviously gotten used to it. Is there a possibility of that occurring? They
have been there for years without any threat to public safety to nearby
residents or to people working there.
Mr. Nash: I will start with that question. In the event that a
willing host community with a suitable geologic formation is not found, then
until that occurs, the material will stay where it is. We can speculate
whether that willing host community with a suitable geologic formation will
be identified or not.
In the event that it takes a protracted period of time to do that — we
are talking decades — the material can safely be stored where it is. The
reason why Canada is not pursuing that as a permanent option is because the
deep geologic repository came out as the preferred option in the study.
Perhaps leaving it on site is a default thing; it is not something that is
Senator Massicotte: How long have the first prototypes been there,
40 or 50 years?
Mr. Nash: The large nuclear power program was initiated more than
30 years ago.
Senator Peterson: Is there not a security issue as well with that
onsite storage in that only 3 to 5 per cent of that energy is taken from
Mr. Nash: To address that question, security provisions are
required for this material irrespective of whether it is stored where it is
now or whether it will be stored in a deep geologic repository. They may
differ depending on where it is, but the material is a proliferation target.
The material could, in theory, if it is not properly secured, be used for
proliferation purposes. That is one of the reasons why they search hugely
tight security around this. Under international treaty, Canada has certain
obligations to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency
to come along and inspect to confirm that that material is there. There are
security provisions in place to ensure that those things do not happen.
Senator Peterson: Utilities would like them off of their sites as
well. They would like them in a deep repository where they would not have to
worry about it.
Mr. Nash: I think it is safe to say that one of the stakeholders —
and there are many — supporting the idea of a deep geologic repository would
include the current owners of nuclear power plants.
Senator Seidman: You spoke about your partnerships with
universities and international partners, and you presented to us issues that
Finland, Sweden and France are already in the process.
Might you tell us about the greatest adaptation you may have had to make
to your plans in response to new knowledge or advances in technology, what
you may have learned from other countries in the works?
Mr. Nash: It would be difficult to put a finger on something
really specific from the technical side. From the socio political side,
there is a lot to learn from Sweden and Finland. They were thoughtful in the
way they went out and about in finding willing host communities. There is a
lot of exchange of information on that particular topic.
On the technological side, we recently upgraded our reference design for
deep geologic repositories, and we have incorporated many features of the
final designs that the Swedes and the Finns have developed, the ones they
are submitting now to their regulatory authorities.
We see a lot of similarity in the design and the methods of doing
analysis, et cetera. There are many areas and this has evolved over a period
Senator Seidman: Is there ongoing R&D to look at new information
or incorporate advanced technologies in rethinking any aspects of the
Mr. Nash: I will give you a couple of examples. One is in the
search, as the phrase goes, leaving no stone unturned. There are predictions
well out into the future, perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 years from now, that
there will be another ice age in Canada. The repository could be covered by
one or two kilometres of ice. Those same events could occur in Sweden and
Finland. All the analysis that has been at different universities and all
the data that have been gathered confirm that the repository would be able
to withstand that.
Going one step further, Sweden, Finland and Canada have a joint project
in Greenland called the Greenland Analogue Project, where we jointly drill
one kilometre into the ice to confirm, without any doubt at all, some of the
calculations. They are not there at this time of year but during the summer
they are out there sinking bore holes. That is another good example of
further understanding of the processes that potentially could impact safety.
We are looking at another area. In certain geologic formations it is
important to have very high corrosion-resistant barriers. One of the
multi-barrier systems is the corrosion resistance of the container. We are
doing research into that area and looking at different technologies to coat
containers with corrosion-resistant materials.
Senator Seidman: I am happy to hear that. I feel quite reassured
because it demonstrates that you are futuristic and you are looking at new
technologies, problems and issues shared among the other countries looking
at this. I find that quite positive and reassuring. Thank you for discussing
some of that with us.
Mr. Nash: I might add that in all of our research and engagement
with Canadians, you are not alone. They expect us and almost demand that we
have those activities; it is an important feature of the program.
Senator Mitchell: This has been excellent. I have a question about
a discrepancy, which I am sure will be cleared up easily.
In your triennial report for 2008 to 2010, it says in the summary of
trust funds established to fund the storage management project that the
balance as of 2010 is $2.1 billion. However, in your presentation you said
that trust and segregated funds were $5 billion. Are the trust and
segregated funds two different things? Does the other fund have $3 billion
Mr. Nash: Funds set aside for this purpose add up to $5 billion.
Under the Nuclear Fuels Waste Act, the funds required today would be the $2
billion. Ontario Power Generation, well before this act came into place,
established segregated funds in agreement with the Province of Ontario.
There is a difference because Ontario Power Generation has additional funds
over and above what is actually required by the act. All of those funds will
wind up fulfilling the same purpose because of the accrual of funds that
have been prescribed through our process and the act. Ontario Power
Generation is, in fact, ahead of the game.
Senator Lang: I want to follow up on Senator Peterson's question
about fee for service. He asked about Canada possibly looking at that if we
proceed with a geological storage facility. Ones are being built in Finland,
Sweden and France. Where is the other one?
Mr. Nash: Certainly, Finland, Sweden and France are the most
advanced. There are other countries, for instance the U.K., that are in a
similar position to ours at the moment. They are looking for a willing
community. Other countries are close behind them.
Senator Lang: Are any of those countries that plan to proceed
considering fee for service from the point of view of a country that wants
to transport their waste and storage elsewhere?
Mr. Nash: The answer to that question is, no. They have come to
the same conclusions and the same sentiment is in place, especially in those
countries that I have mentioned.
Senator Lang: Was there not a request to send some waste from here
in the last year or so? Were we sending it somewhere?
The Chair: Nuclear generators were to be sent to Sweden to be
recycled, but they could not get down the St. Lawrence Seaway past
Kahnawake. That has not happened, has it?
Mr. Nash: No.
The Chair: Do you think it will happen?
Mr. Nash: I am not in a position to answer that question, I am
The Chair: It is not part of the mission, is it?
Mr. Nash: No.
The Chair: Senator Lang, are you finished promoting the Yukon?
Senator Lang: I am fine, thank you.
The Chair: Why are they not on the list? February 28, they are
coming. Are there any other questions?
On behalf of the committee, Mr. Nash and Ms. Shaver, thank you so much.
It was a very interesting presentation and exchange with the senators.
I want to say on the record what I said earlier to you, Mr. Nash. We
started our study on developing a national or a Canadian energy policy
framework with great interest in nuclear, knowing that close to 15 per cent
of electricity in Canada is generated by nuclear power. We made our visits
to Chalk River, Darlington and elsewhere, and then disaster hit Japan. We
felt the deep freeze around the world. We have seen Switzerland, Germany and
other countries in storage mode for France and others. We saw the Americans
back off, but now they seem interested again. There are quite a few reactors
underway, as well as in China. You probably would not have a comment on that
but, in your view, will there be a lot of business for a nuclear waste
disposal repository in the future in Canada?
Mr. Nash: Perhaps just for the record and clarification, our
organization has absolutely no position on the future of nuclear energy or
energy choices. Our mission is to deal with the waste that is created. It
has to be dealt with because it is there, irrespective of the future of
nuclear energy. It would be kind of inappropriate for me to pass an opinion
on that particular question.
The Chair: You cannot blame the chair for casting a fly in the
water; you never know.
Senators, we will reconvene here at 9 o'clock on Thursday morning instead
of at 8 o'clock, when we will hear from the International Energy Agency by
Thank you for a very interesting session.
(The committee adjourned.)