Low- and medium-level waste is stored in waste storage facilities, either in the radioactive waste storage area, or, since 2009, in the new solid radioactive waste management facility (SRWMF). Spent fuel is stored in the dry storage area. Management of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel involves stringent radiation protection and environmental monitoring procedures to protect workers, the public and the environment.
Since June 2016, the operation of the radioactive waste storage facilities at Gentilly-2 is an integral part of the decommissioning licence obtained by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. All our waste storage facilities are subject to environmental monitoring.
Radioactive waste storage area
The radioactive waste storage area (RWSA) was built at the same time as the power plant. Though it has been used less frequently in recent years, this storage area remains available to store certain types of intermediate-level radioactive waste. It continues to be environmentally monitored, in compliance with the conditions of the current operating licence.
Solid radioactive waste management facility (SRWMF)
Since 2009, most low- and medium-level radioactive waste has been stored in the SRWMF. This storage facility was built in two separate phases and has several aboveground storage modules.
As part of the decommissioning of Gentilly-2, Hydro-Québec is continuing its efforts to reduce the volume of solid radioactive waste produced at the source. A large portion of the radioactive waste is compacted before it is transferred to the storage modules.
Irradiated fuel dry storage area (IFDSA)
The irradiated nuclear fuel was removed from the Gentilly-2 reactor core in 2013 and will remain in a spent fuel pool for about seven years. It will then be transferred to CANSTOR dry storage modules, all of them located within the nuclear plant’s security perimeter. There are 11 CANSTOR modules on the Gentilly-2 site. The last two were commissioned in winter 2017.
By 2020, almost 130,000 bundles of spent fuel will be stored in these modules.
Long-term irradiated fuel management
Hydro-Québec is a member of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), which was established in 2002 under the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act. Its mission is to develop and implement a management approach for the long-term care of Canada’s used nuclear fuel that is socially acceptable, technically sound, environmentally responsible and economically feasible.
In 2007, the Minister of Natural Resources of Canada approved the NWMO recommendation for adaptive phased management (APM), which is both a technical method and a management system that can be adapted to changing technology and science and to evolving public policy. Its ultimate technical objective is the centralized containment and isolation of used nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository.
In 2008, the NWMO initiated a nation-wide public dialogue to determine the process to be used to select a geological storage site. In 2009, the NWMO held consultations concerning a siting process based on that dialogue. Information sessions were held in four Canadian provinces, including Québec (Montréal, Trois-Rivières and Québec). The selection process was finalized in 2010. Some twenty proposals were considered, and the NWMO is now conducting preliminary assessments of the fitness of each of the nine different sites still under study.