Decommissioning of the Gentilly‑2 facilities

Management of solid radioactive waste and spent fuel

In addition to spent fuel, nuclear generating stations produce different types of solid radioactive waste that are distinguished primarily by their level of radioactivity.

Low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste is stored in waste storage facilities at Gentilly-2, 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.

Key statistics

2,36% Proportion of Canada's low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste produced by the Gentilly‑2 nuclear generating station

4% Proportion of fuel bundles used by all Canadian power plants that was used at Gentilly‑2 nuclear generating station*

* According to Natural Resources Canada’s Inventory of Radioactive Waste in Canada 2019

Radioactive Waste Storage Area (RWSA)

The Radioactive Waste Storage Area (RWSA) was built at the same time as the generating station. All of its contents are scheduled for transfer to the solid radioactive waste management facility by 2024. This transfer will have the added benefit of optimizing the monitoring area and keeping this waste in newer modules.

Solid Radioactive Waste Management Facility (SRWMF)

Low-level radioactive waste bundles

This storage facility was built in two separate phases and has several aboveground storage modules. Since 2009, the main types of waste stored there have been:

  • low-level radioactive waste, consisting of rags, gloves, slightly contaminated clothing, mops and mechanical filters
  • intermediate-level radioactive waste, consisting of purification resins and equipment parts used in nuclear systems.

Irradiated Fuel Dry Storage Area (IFDSA)

The irradiated nuclear fuel was removed from the Gentilly‑2 reactor core in 2013 and remained in a spent fuel pool for about seven years. It was transferred to CANSTOR dry storage modules, all of them located within the nuclear plant’s security perimeter.

Since December 2020, a total of nearly 130,000 spent fuel bundles have been stored inside the IFDSA’s CANSTOR dry storage modules where they will remain until a long-term management site has been prepared to receive all of the spent fuel bundles from all of Canada’s nuclear power plant operators.

Spent fuel dry storage module

Long-term radioactive waste management

Spent nuclear fuel

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). Some twenty proposals were considered, and the NWMO is now conducting preliminary assessments of the fitness of each of the two different sites still under study. The final selection is expected to be announced in 2023.

Find out more about the NWMO's work

Low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste

As part of the federal government's review policy for radioactive waste management, the NWMO has been mandated by the Minister of Natural Resources Canada to develop an integrated radioactive waste strategy with Canadians and Indigenous peoples. Following the consultations, Natural Resources Canada will develop a management policy for nuclear waste beyond spent fuel. Meanwhile, Hydro‑Québec will continue holding discussions with other Canadian nuclear power plant operators in order to find a long-term solution for managing this waste.

Find out more about the NWMO's consultation