Frequently asked questions
1. Why is the CNSC Commission recommending a panel review?
The CNSC Commission is of the opinion that a recommendation to the Minister of the Environment for a referral to a review panel appears to be appropriate given the uncertainties associated with the project and the concerns identified, including the wastes to be managed and the unique nature (first of a kind in Canada) of the project:
- the complexity of the project and the fact that a deep geological repository is new to Canada
- the nature of the wastes to be managed and uncertainties regarding the nature of the proposed site
- the benefit a panel review might have, by giving access to additional international and other expertise to ensure that the geological and hydrological complexity of the project are addressed
- the potential to provide the public with additional consultation opportunities, including a public hearing held by the panel review on the environmental assessment (EA) findings
A record of proceedings, including reasons for decision of the hearing is available on the CNSC website at nuclearsafety.gc.ca, or by contacting CNSC.
2. How many types of review panels are there, and what are the differences between them?
The Canadian Environment Assessment Agency (CEAA) provides for several approaches for review panels. For more information, refer to the CEAA website at ceaa-acee.gc.ca.
3. Who decides how many panel members will be appointed and who they will be?
The Minister of Environment decides whether there will be a panel, the type of panel and the constituting members of the panel.
4. Can the Minister of Environment decide to refer the EA back to the CNSC to continue assessing the project through the comprehensive study process?
Yes. The Minister of Environment will review the CNSC Commission's recommendation, along with any other relevant evidence, and make a decision on the track for the EA. Under the CEAA, this is the only time that a comprehensive study can be referred to a review panel. If the Minister of Environment decides that a panel is not warranted, the EA will be referred back to the CNSC to continue assessing the project as a comprehensive study.
5. Will the public be consulted before the Minister of Environment makes the decision to go with a panel or refer the EA back to the CNSC to be continued as a comprehensive study?
Prior to referring this EA to the Minister of Environment, the CNSC conducted public consultations on the ability of the comprehensive study to address technical issues and on public concerns with the project. A public hearing of the CNSC Commission was held in Kincardine on October 23, 2006.
Further consultations would depend on the Minister of Environment. Please refer to the CEAAs website.
6. In terms of funding, how much money will be made available for interveners if there is a panel? What about if the EA stays at a comprehensive study?
Please consult the CEAA website concerning the Participant Funding Program.
As part of this program, the CEAA already made $30,000 available for this project when it was being evaluated as a comprehensive study. If the Minister of Environment refers the project back to the CNSC as a comprehensive study, this participant funding program will be reassessed by the CEAA.
7. What would the public consultation schedule look like under a panel review? Would panel members travel to the different communities?
More information on the next steps is available on the CEAA website.
If the Minister of Environment decides to refer this EA back to CNSC for assessment under the comprehensive study process, an appropriate consultation plan will be developed and implemented by CNSC. This plan will be advertised and posted to CNSC website.
8. What are the different types of radioactive waste in Canada?
Licensed activities can produce various types of radioactive waste, such as uranium mine and mill tailings, high-level waste (more commonly known as spent nuclear fuel) and operational waste, each presenting its own level of hazard. Operational waste can be further divided into two basic categories: low-level and intermediate-level waste.
Low-level radioactive waste consists of industrial items that have become slightly contaminated with radioactivity. This can include mops, rags, paper towels, floor sweepings, protective clothing and hardware items such as tools. This type of waste may be safely handled by workers using normal industrial practices and equipment without any special radiation protection.
Intermediate-level radioactive waste consists primarily of used nuclear reactor components and the ion-exchange resins and filters used to purify reactor water systems. This type of waste is more radioactive than low-level waste and requires shielding to protect workers during handling.
For more information on waste, consult the CNSC’s Radioactive Waste Management - Canada's Regulatory Process fact sheet.
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