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Project Development

Project Development

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Many areas of research were undertaken to verify the sites suitability for a DGR. The main areas of the project study (or Project Development) included:  geological science (geoscientific site characterization), safety (repository safety analysis), environmental protection (assessment) and project design.

These activities were conducted in support of the regulatory approvals process and together create a solid safety case for the DGR.

Some of the conclusions from the preliminary safety assessment were:

  • The facility can be constructed and operated safely.
  • The host rock is effective in providing long-term isolation and containment.
  • The majority of radioactivity will decay in and around the repository.
  • Future scenarios considered in the safety assessment include: earthquakes, glaciation, human intrusion into repository, failure of the shaft seal, failure of the borehole seals, and a vertical fault near the repository.
  • Even under extreme assumptions about future scenarios, the impacts on people living around the repository site (i.e. around the current Bruce nuclear site) would be at or below the natural background radiation dose rate.

Expert Review and Oversight

Geoscientific Review Group

The Geoscience Review Group (GRG) was established in 2005 to provide peer review and oversight on the research. The GRG ensures the DGR project will benefit from international experience in all aspects of the geoscientific site characterization. Learn more.

DGR International Peer Review Team

An International Peer Review Team (IPRT) was established from 2009 to 2010. The team reviewed the interim (2009) and final (2010) postclosure safety assessment reports. The review team was comprised of safety assessment experts with experience in low, intermediate and high-level waste management programs in Belgium, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The IPRT consisted of the following individuals: Dr. Peter de Preter, Mr. Graham Hickford (2010), Dr. Martin Kelly (2009), Dr. Paul Smith, and Dr. Jean Talandier. Learn more.

DGR Technical Review Group

The Technical Review Group (TRG) was formed in September 2009 to advise NWMO on matters related to the design and construction of the proposed DGR facility. The proposed DGR project has many of the attributes and challenges of a deep underground mine construction project. The TRG has conducted two formal reviews of the DGR facility design to date. More recently, members of the TRG have participated in NWMO-organized design reviews of the DGR facility. Learn more.

Project Development Activity

Geologic Science (Geoscientific Site Characterization)

A four-year multi-phase program of geoscientific investigations to verify the suitability of the geology beneath the Bruce nuclear site to safely host the DGR was completed in July 2010. Documents related to this work are provided below. Learn more.

Safety Assessment (Overview)

The safety of the DGR during the operational phase (preclosure) and over the long-term (postclosure), after operations have ceased and the facility has been decommissioned, was studied. These technical studies contribute to the Environmental Impact Statement and the Preliminary Safety Report submissions supporting the site preparation/construction licence application. Documents related to this work are provided below.

Facility Design

A preliminary design for the DGR was completed in May 2010. This work updates and advances previous conceptual design work completed in 2008. The scope of the work included all aspects of the DGR, including construction, the receipt of waste from the WWMF and nuclear generating stations, and the emplacement of the waste in the DGR. Documents related to this work are provided below.

Artist’s rendering of DGR surface facilities

The surface features of the DGR include the main shaft, ventilation shaft, waste rock management area and various ancillary facilities. The main shaft area will have a headframe equipped with a hoist to handle a 40-tonne payload, a waste package receiving building, and buildings housing equipment to heat air to be delivered underground.

DGR underground facilities  

The underground layout of the repository includes two vertical shafts centred on a service area. Two panels of emplacement room extend from the underground service area where the latter area provides space for smaller ancillary rooms to house services, and administrative and maintenance activities.
 

Typical shaft sinking equipment layout

Underground rock excavation by drill and blast method 

Shafts, access tunnels and emplacement rooms will be excavated by controlled drill and blast methods.
 

Historical Project Documents

This section includes historical DGR project documents, grouped by year. They are provided for historical reference purposes only and include items such as: DGR open house reports, Design reports and drawings, Annual Reports, Brochures and Conference papers.