Nuclear generating stations produce different types of solid radioactive waste that are distinguished primarily by their level of radioactivity. Low- and medium-level waste is stored at the generating station site in the radioactive waste storage area, and, since 2009, in the new solid radioactive waste management facility. Irradiated fuel is stored in the dry storage area. Proper waste management is an essential part of operating a nuclear power plant. Strict radiation protection procedures are used to ensure the safety of employees, the public and the environment.
The operation of radioactive waste storage facilities at Gentilly-2 generating station is also subject to the conditions of a licence that is strictly monitored by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
Irradiated fuel removed from the reactor spends at least seven years in the adjacent storage pool before being stored in CANSTOR dry storage modules located inside the generating station’s security perimeter.
At the end of 2009, the seven CANSTOR modules currently in use at Gentilly-2 contained 78,000 fuel bundles. Two new modules were built over the course of the year.
Low- and medium-level radioactive waste is now stored in the solid radioactive waste management facility (SRWMF).
In 2009, Hydro-Québec continued its efforts to reduce the volume of solid radioactive waste produced in the operation and maintenance of Gentilly-2 generating station. The acquisition of a barrel compactor helped reduce the space occupied by 600 non-reusable barrels. An area totaling 114 m3 was reclaimed, the equivalent of ten 6-m (20 ft) shipping containers.
Hydro-Québec is a member of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), which was established in 2002 under the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act. Its mandate 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 containment and isolation of used nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository.
In 2009, the NWMO launched a public consultation program that invited Canadians to share their opinions about the APM site selection process. The NWMO held consultations in Trois-Rivières, Montréal and Québec in summer 2009.
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